In are recent article, Boston Public Schools has responded to the #BlackatBLS campaigners complaint through an investigation conducted by it’s Office of Equity. This investigation was used to minimize the perception of racism in Boston Public Schools. The #BlackatBLS movement needs to request an investigation that expands to all aspect of the Boston Latin School.
According to the article, Boston Public Schools release findings of its investigation into Boston Latin School racism concerns, the school district’s Office of Equity has effectively minimized the perception of racism by finding only one incident out of seven where polices and procedures were violated. The inquiry focused on incidents between November 2014 and January 2016. The one incident involved a student using a racial slur and making a threat towards another student. It was found that in this incident administrators were negligent in the investigation process and they did not adequately discipline the student nor take the appropriate steps to ensure support and safety for the student that was victimized.
The office of Equality investigated the #BlackatBLS complaint regarding social media racial attacks. The Office of Equity found that Boston Latin School administrators did not violate any policies or procedures. They agreed with the determination made by Boston Latin School administrators that most of the racial remarks that were made by persons who lived outside of Massachusetts and did not attend their school. Furthermore, the report indicates that administrators acted appropriately regarding four Boston Latin School students who made racial remarks.
The Office of Equality recommended that Boston Latin School headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta conduct a racial climate audit before the end of the school year and repeat the process in the next school year. This racial audit should be conducted by an independent outside entity. Otherwise, Boston Latin School administrators will cover-up many findings because they are racially insensitive.
The first place that #BalckatBLS campaigners must address is the leadership perception. The name headmaster has a racial connotation. The term has historical roots in British history. The headmaster or headmistress of a British private school was often the owner of the school or a member of the owning family, and the position often remained in the family for many generations. The term headmaster implies ownership while the term principal implies educator. The #BlackatBLS will benefit from the Boston Latin School using names that are consistent with education and not racially insensitive.
What are the other school mechanisms will reveal to #BlackatBLS campaigners that the Boston Latin School has a racist culture?
Many school social codes are unfamiliar and opposed to culturally diverse student home codes. Blacks have difficulty with school instructional concepts and ideas that are absent in their community, culture, or economic environment that ignore or misrepresent their present condition. School instructional procedures include cultural values, orientations, and perceptions that differ from those of Black students.
For example, most elementary and secondary school curriculum are beneficial to White middle-class children. Public schools continue to have culturally based philosophies and curricula that focus on White European values.
School instructional procedures include cultural values, perceptions, and orientations that differ from those of Black students. In school, students become passive informational recipients while in their culture they are involved in a learning experience that is give and take, and in one situation, they may be the learner and in another situation, they are the teacher.
#BlackatBLS campaigners should not settle with the findings of the Boston Public School Office of Equity. They should investigate the trends of discipline at the school which was absent in the investigation. The investigation did not include an evaluation of student participation as well. In most schools you will find the Black students participating in mostly athletics.
They should evaluate: Do White teachers actively recruit Black students to participate in all after-school activities? And if so do they have the documentation. One place that will provide evidence is a review of yearbooks for the past ten years.
Another question that needs to be entertained is the relationship between Black students and teachers. Do #BlackatBLS campaigners feel that White teachers accept and are appropriately responsive to the verbal and nonverbal behavior of Black students.
Schools and Black students’ conflict develops from expectation differences related to interaction styles. White Americans believe Blacks should interact with them by acknowledging their cultural identity, being socially polite and friendly, and supporting their arguments. Black Americans believe Whites should interact with them by being polite to the other as an individual, supporting their arguments and making them relevant, and being assertive.
Blacks and Whites have differences in communication styles which contribute to the complaints that the #BlackatBLS campaigners have for which the Boston Public School Office of Equity was neither responsible for nor desired to entertain because it was outside of the normal school procedures and policies.
White Americans’ unfamiliarity with the Black communication style results in a misunderstanding by the American mainstream and can create the perception of racism at the Boston Latin School. One area of complication is associated with debates. Blacks not only debate the idea; they also debate the person while Whites debate the idea rather than the person debating the idea. This becomes offensive for many White educators and continues to fuel the perception of racism. Blacks will often evaluate where a person is coming from by probing beyond a given statement in order to clarify the meaning and value of a particular behavior or attitude.
Black students contrast White middle-class communication when they speak over others’ voices and repeat the communication until they are responded to or until they have someone’s attention. Black communities accept the approach that their children use by interrupting others or speaking out of turn, which is an unacceptable school practice, and teachers view this behavior as disruptive and inappropriate. Anglo Americans place a high value on allowing one person at a time to speak to indicate respect for an individual.
While these recommendations for the #BlackatBLS campaigners is not exhaustive, it is evident that the Boston Office of Equity has bamboozled the #BlackatBLS movement by focusing only on policy and procedure and not the real contributors to racism in education
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 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