The saga of disproportionate Black student discipline continues to engulf our educational system. White educators feel victimized due to the outcomes of their alleged racial and economic biases. The media and Politian’s continue to wage war and finance initiatives that have made very little difference over the decades. The continued tragedy that cultivates a permanent underclass is the product of dysfunctional organizational process that results in Black student contribution to a permanent underclass. Black students have classroom behaviors for which White teachers forbid which results in continued disproportionate discipline.

The recent Obama administration responded to these concerns by requiring schools to reduce suspensions and expulsions or face litigation as well as the possible loss of federal funding. The Every Student Succeeds Act, that was passed by Congress supports this recovery by the various statues designed to assist troubled youth. The new secretary of the Department of Education – Betsy Devos – has hinted at rejecting the Obama administration criteria as a method for improving education. 

The fundamental aspect that leads to disproportional discipline is teacher biases that lead to dysfunctional classroom relationships between Black students and White teachers. The ideal teacher-student relationship includes dialogue and respectful treatment between both teachers and students.

Black students are wary of White teachers due to the history associated with slavery as well as the daily reminders that the education provided by schools is insufficient. For example, students believe that school is detrimental to their identity due to that fact that Blacks were bought to this country against their will and then relegated to a subordinate status. Furthermore, Black students reject the White established educational institute that has helped their parents to attain under employment opportunities therefore maintaining a permanent Black underclass. The maintenance of this permanent underclass begins with Black student classroom behaviors that White teachers continually forbid. 

One such classroom behaviors that White teachers forbid is the perception associated with talking back. In the classroom, Black students power play by loud talking or back-talking to make teachers lose their cool and get the last word in. In most cases, White teachers respond by submitting a referral for a consequence which on a larger scale leads to disproportionate discipline. 

Instead of responses that lead to disproportionate discipline, teachers can choose strategies that provide Black students with classroom leadership opportunities that empower Black students. White teachers can also use empowering communication techniques because Black students believe teachers show them respect by addressing them as Mr., Mrs., Sir, or Ma’am. 

Some in-class arguments between teachers and Black students are a product of the Blacks system of language socialization that involves students talking, which gets others in the group to listen and respond. Black students are inclined to talk back when motivated by what a teacher says. Black students may become so impressed with the speaker, such as a teacher, that students will want to hear the speaker again due to an interest in how it was said. Instead of forbidding this Black student behavior, White teachers can repeat the instruction for clarity. One strategy that I find beneficial is to ask the students for any questions after the instructions are provided.

Another Black student behavior that White teachers forbid is behaviors associated with debates. Whenever there is a possibility of a confrontation, it is proceeded by a debate. Blacks not only debate the idea; they also debate the person while Whites debate the idea rather than the person debating the idea. Blacks move a debate from a global perspective to a personal perspective which many White teachers believe is insulting. Blacks often probe beyond a given statement to determine the individual’s intentions.  Once White teachers evaluate this Black student tendencies, they will understand that the focus is not conflict but the development of trust between the Black student and White teacher. 

While this is not an exhaustive list of the Black student behaviors that White teachers forbid, there is a need to provide teachers with additional training. The additional training must be developed by using a scientific model that improves relationships. The only relationship improvement model was developed by Margaret Wheatley and enhanced by Dr. Derrick L. Campbell. Without the utilization of this model, teachers will continue to forbid innocent Black student behaviors that result in disproportionate discipline.

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Betsy DeVos shouldn’t roll back guidance on racial discipline disparities


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

cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant cultural diversity consultant classroom 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




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