Schools have reached a new frontier which requires the development of additional strategies to better handle racism. Without such strategies the perception that schools now permeate will continue to accelerate. Schools will need to better handle racism by additional training for administrators, teachers and students.
Teachers, students, and administrators at the Layton High School in Northern Utah continue to struggle with handling racism. Recently, a Black high school senior was allegedly attacked by a White student. The Black student is facing criminal charges and was suspended for two days and will not be allowed to attend his senior prom because of the incident.
It appears that administrators may have rushed to judgement which is the first area in need of additional training. The incident allegedly began when Teague Casper, 17, said he was dancing with a group of friends on Feb. 10 at his school’s Sweethearts Dance when a White student shoved him, spat on his face and called him a “n—–.”
“I freaked out,” Casper said. “I hit him to get away from him.” He said he ran to the bathroom to calm down. Administrators then took him into an office. After interviewing the White student, an assistant principal and the school’s resource officer came and told Casper he might be facing criminal charges and was suspended from school.
Before the administrator rendered his judgement, he should have interviewed the students who allegedly witnessed the incident. Secondly, administrative hearings should not be held in the presence of security. Security officers do not have the power to render judgement and therefore should not be allowed to attend an administrative hearing. The other challenge that exist is that when security becomes part of the process, the security officer develops a perception regarding the student which could ultimately contribute to the school to prison pipeline.
The next challenge is the classification of racial incidents. Most schools have tactfully avoided the implication of racism by filing complaints under bullying or harassment. Bullying and harassment are often used interchangeably when talking about hurtful or harmful behavior. They are very similar, but in terms of definition, there is a significant difference. Bullying and harassment are similar as they are both about, power and control, actions that hurt or harm another person physically or emotionally, an imbalance of power between the target and the individual demonstrating the negative behavior, the target having difficulty stopping the action directed at them.
The distinction between bullying and harassment is that when the bullying behavior directed at the target is also based on a protected class, that behavior is then defined as harassment. Protected classes include race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, and national origin.
The way that racism is framed takes a back seat to bullying. The message that policy makers have sent to children is that racism is not as a crucial factor when considering the other associated categories. It also assumes that children at the school age are not prone to be classified as a racist. New research not yet published by Mahzarin Banaji, a renowned Harvard University psychologist, brain researcher, and racism and physical prejudice expert, and colleagues suggests that even though they may not understand the “why’’ of their feelings, children exposed to racism tend to accept and embrace it as young as age 3, and in just a matter of days.
Schools must now make racism a separate category. They must ensure that children and staff members understand that an incident that involve aggressions between persons of different races and ethnicities can fall under the category of racism and that person can be prosecuted or disciplined as such.
Instead of consequences associated with bullying, schools must now include in their handbook consequences associated with acts of racism. This will help administrators, students, teachers, and parents to better undemand how to better handle racism that may exist in their schools.
The next step is to better train teachers. Teachers need to utilize the Raccelerate Formula to ensure that they remain under the racism radar. For schools that want to prevent racism possibilities, they can better handle racism by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
- 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
“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