School administrators are responsible for managing and leading initiatives which include racial equality for historically underserved students. An increase of racism complaints has caused parents and community members to gather in force to express their opposition. One such incident has bought national focus to the Montclair Public School District.
A group known as the 100 Moms and Students of Color held a Black Kids Matter protest rally on Saturday, August 15 in Rand Park. The protestors felt that Montclair’s Superintendent of Schools – Nathan Parker – has reversed the racial equality progress by eliminating the position of student equality advocate.
The advocate provided racial equality guidance and advocated for students who believed that they were victimized by discrimination, racists behaviors, mistreatment, or blocked from opportunities in the Montclair School District. The school board has responded to the budget cutting measure by redirecting those duties to another staff member within the school district. The proposed methods by both the Montclair Public School District and the group that goes by the name 100 Moms and Students will prove to be ineffective.
The 100 Moms and Students decided to voice their opposition via protest. Even though the protest ended peacefully, it is a well-known fact that after a protest, Whites respond to racial equality protest with retaliation. According to the article The Inevitability of a White Backlash to the George Floyd Protests, history is replete with examples of how Whites exhibit behaviors that result in a backlash towards Blacks.
For example, there was a White backlash to the two terms of Barack Obama. While many argued that electing Obama as the president provided the inclination that America was no longer a racist country. However, many Whites voted against him. In 2008, only 43 percent Whites voted for him. In 2012, only 39 percent of White voters voted for him. In 2012 Black voter turnout surpassed White voter turnout which resulted in dozens of states passing voter ID laws, and the purging millions of voters. The black voter turnout dropped drastically by the 2016 election. After being near 67 percent in 2012 it decreased to 59.6 percent in 2016, the largest decrease ever recorded. 765,000 less blacks voted in 2016 than did in 2012.
The better way for 100 Moms and Students of Color is to demand that the Montclair School District follow the laws outlined by the New Jersey Department of Education. According to N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.6, district boards of education must provide training for all school personnel on a continuing basis to identify and resolve problems associated with the student achievement gap and other inequities arising from prejudice on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status. This is the best alternative for the 100 Moms and Students of Color.
The Montclair School District has responded to the accusations of racism by funneling any associated challenges to one person. This type of assignment is consistent with putting a target on the back of one person. Unless this person is a highly skilled administrator with specific racial equality training their efforts will fail.
Instead, the school district must make it a racial equality team effort. This is accomplished by Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships. Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships with shift the beliefs of both students and parents.
Also, the Montclair board members have passed a new resolution condemning racism and affirming its commitment to an inclusive school environment. The new resolution does share penalties for not following the resolution nor does it offer a plan of action. The new resolution should include following the guidelines outlined in N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.6. N.J. A.C. 6A:7-1.6 is legally binding which directs New Jersey schools to provide ongoing racial equality training for all staff members.