Many superintendents who have elected to combat racism are taking approaches that can only scratch the surface to the solution which continues to result in further challenges. At the heart of every school challenge is a culture that embraces and nurtures the root of the problem. Superintendents can only successfully combat racism by transforming the culture of the school which includes staff, students, parents, and the community.

Without the appropriate transformation process, any efforts are doomed to fail and will continue to manifest themselves. Many school districts opt to use alternative measures that never respond to the root of the necessity to combat racism.

In one school, the superintendent has opted to utilize a power over leadership style which will eventually prove as more detrimental that helpful. For example, Quakertown Superintendent William Harner said he and other district officials are determined to do everything possible to combat prejudice after the incident at a football game earlier this month, saying at a recent school board meeting he’s going to “drive a truck through” racism in the district. This power over approach may work for the individual but the overall impact with result in a continued dysfunctional organization and in this case a dysfunctional school.

One of the primary tenets of a dysfunctional organization is blame. A school board member at the Quakertown School District has implied that this is the appropriate process. School board member Paul Stepanoff suggested “publicly logging” racial incidents in the district to see how widespread the problem is. Instead, this school district would benefit from a comprehensive Cultural Risk Audit as the first stepping stone to help the school combat racism.

The effort to help the schools combat racism has a focus primarily on students. Students are an important part of the school, however, they do not control the entire school culture. The schools have chosen to hire facilitators from The Peace Center who go into classes to talk to students about tolerance, and also train teachers — who in turn train other teachers — about how to deal with and prevent incidents of racism and hate.

Additionally, the schools combat racism by having assemblies on racism and promoting tolerance, and smaller group discussions with students on the importance of respecting people of all races and orientations. While these efforts can help, they can also become problematic in two areas. One problem area is that you are training students who will eventually graduate or leave the school in some form or manner. Which leads to the second problem. This type of process to help the school combat racism will become costly over the long run and eventually cost the school monies that could best serve staff and students in other areas.

It is a well known fact that the majority of discipline and academic challenges exist between black students and teachers. We know this because since 1972, which is the first year for recording the differences of academic achievement, that White students outperform Black students in math, reading, and writing. Another well known fact is that Black and Hispanic students are more likely to receive a discipline consequence when compare to White students as well as becoming a product of the school to prison pipeline when compared to White students. Instead of focusing on the symptoms of racism, school would enhance their overall culture by first helping to combat racism at the most elementary level as described.

Helping schools combat racism should begin with a Cultural Risk Audit. A Cultural Risk Audit will help to identify the root causes. The next step is to empower teachers to facilitate the transformation. This will save the school money and have the best impact to help schools combat racism for decades.

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All the best,


Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


            Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

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“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”  

~ Tom Coleman ~ Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

cultural diversity consultant


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