In a recent article, Richmond Public School students and local civic organizations seek relief that results from racism allegations. Leadership has faltered in not considering that the larger school district is a product of many small school cultures. Richmond Public School will need to utilize a process that takes into consideration the different cultures that control each individual school if they seek to avoid future allegations of racism.
According to the article, 2 students, NAACP file anti-discrimination complaint against Richmond Public Schools, two Richmond Public School students and the Richmond National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have filed an anti-discrimination complaint against Richmond Public Schools with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights regarding the discipline policies that appear to disproportionally punish African American students.
According to the article, during the 2014-15 school year, African-American students with disabilities were 12.91 times more likely than White students without disabilities to be suspended on a short term basis. Additionally, for the 2014-15 school year, African-American students made up about 76 percent of the total student population in Richmond Publ9ic Schools and accounted for 93 percent of short-term suspensions, 98 percent of long-term suspensions, and 97 percent of expulsions. African-American students were 5.69 times more likely to be suspended when compare to White students for short-term suspensions.
The Richmond Public School administration has responded by claiming that they are “working diligently to ensure that all disciplinary actions are fair and consistent. The Student Code of Responsible Ethics (SCORE) Handbook was revised to move away from zero tolerance based discipline. As part of these guidelines, faculty and staff consider factors such as the nature/seriousness of the violation, the student’s age, the student’s previous disciplinary record, and any other relevant circumstances when determining the most appropriate disciplinary interventions/consequences. A tiered model of intervention was implemented to clearly define which disciplinary action can be taken based upon grade level and behavior.”
The civil rights lawsuit and the direction of the Richmond Public Schools is problematic in that it has not successfully enhanced the behaviors of the students resulting in the disproportional suspension for African American students. Therefore, this is not a challenge with policies, student code of ethics, guidelines, student backgrounds, or altering the consequences for violation of infractions. It appears to be a challenge that is more related to the relationships between teachers and students. Since the majority of the teachers are White and the disproportionate number of students that are disciplined are African American, it has to be a challenge between the White teachers and Black students.
Racial differences between teachers and students influence positive teacher-student classroom relationship development. Teacher-student conflicts result from a difference in desires, and even though this difference may be reduced, it remains in schools. The Richmond Public School administration will need to develop positive classroom relationships between White teachers and African American students.
How will positive relationships between teachers and African American students impact Richmond Public Schools?
Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways the prerequisites for effective learning and behavior. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning.
Developing positive relationships with students provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence. Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive feelings. Teachers who develop positive and personal relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students. Richmond Public Schools will benefit from the process that promotes positive racial 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
“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