The war on systemic racism continues to forge forward and the battle will eventually take place in the classroom. Teachers who are unprepared will suffer the most and become publicly ridiculed resulting in a drastically reduced teaching force for which the next generations will pay for dearly. Teachers must distance themselves from accusations of disproportionate disciple and establish and maintain positive classroom relationships to avoid the pitfalls associated with systemic racism.
In a recent article, Parents say York Region school board has no plan to deal with allegations of systemic racism, several parents of color have voiced their disappointment with the York region school board decisions and procedures to eliminate alleged systemic racism at the school district. The allegations are a result of alleged behavior of several staff members. In one incident, the principal of Sir Wilfird Laurier Public School in Markham, Ghada Sadaka, published several posts on Facebook about Islam and refugees that some parents reported as offensive. One of the post suggested banning burkas in Europe. In another incident, a teacher insulted a Black student in a class where the majority students are White, by telling the White students to check their bags to ensure that the Black student, had not stolen anything.
The York Region school board has responded to these incidents by reviewing and recommending updates for existing school policies. This response has infuriated parents due to lack of transparency and the refusal to respond to previous allegations of systemic racism. On parent responded that “the tone of the meeting seems to be the same as what we’ve experienced over the last year. The problem itself is not being addressed … and to hear the board talk about policies in place — they were in place, and we still had this issue.”
What are the primary components of systemic racism in schools?
First you have to look at the structure of the school from a systemic perspective. Bolman and Deal recommended evaluating organizations from a human resource, symbolic, structural, and political perspectives. The first major component is human resource. The human resource perspective includes the needs of students, teachers, school administrators, district administrators, support staff, and the governing body which is the school board members.
Next is the symbolic perspective. The culture of a school is represented and communicated by the usage of symbols. Symbols include but are not limited to values, vision, rituals, and ceremonies. Values define the fundamental tenets of the school. Vision is the image of the school’s purpose. Rituals include those day to day routines. Ceremonies are the culminating activities associated with rituals.
Next is the structural perspective. The structural perspective is the blueprint of formal expectations and exchanges amongst those who are part of the human resource perspective. The structural perspective includes vertical coordination, lateral coordination, and structural imperatives. Vertical coordination is represented by legitimized authority, rules and policies, as well as planning and control systems. Lateral coordination is represented by meetings, task forces, coordinating roles, matrix structure, and networks. Structural imperatives include size and age, core processes, environment, strategy and goals, information technology, and the nature of the organization.
Politics is the final perspective which is centered on power and decision making. Sources of power include position power, information and expertise, control of rewards, coercive power, alliances and networks, access and control of agendas, framing the meaning of symbols, and personal power.
Systemic racism can become the product of each individual perspective or a collective of all perspectives. Teachers will have to determine the perceptive that will ensure that any allegations of systemic racism in the classroom are null and void.
Many of the challenges associated with the accusations of systemic racism are related to either symbolic and structural perspective. Teachers have very little control over the human resource perspective because they have limited control over the students who are initially assigned to their class. Within the symbolic perspective, teachers have complete control over the rituals or day to day operations of their class. The structural perspective provides teachers the opportunity to control expectations and exchanges. Teachers should have complete control over the political perspective because they are provided position power over students and have the authority to frame the meaning of symbols.
How should teachers respond to allegations of systemic racism associated with the symbolic perspective?
Teachers have total control over the day to day operations of the classroom. What many parents and civics organizations complain about is the outcome of those day to day operations. One detrimental outcome is disproportionate discipline. Teachers need to use the Raccelerate Formula to ensure that they are not associated with systemic racism in the area of disproportionate disciple.
How should teachers respond to allegations of systemic racism associated with the structural perspective?
Teachers have control over the classroom expectations and exchanges. Many of the difficulties that are associated with systemic racism arise from differences in those expectations on a cultural level. Teacher can eliminate this systemic racism stigma by promoting positive teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).
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 and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“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