In a recent article, Lehigh Valley administrators and teachers are facing challenges with White students who have shown support for Donald Trump which has resulted in disrupting the day to day school operations. This troubling trend could create problems for schools across that nation that could last for years to come. Lehigh Valley administrators and teachers will need to exhibit characteristics consistent with racial neutrality if they expect to help White students appropriately exhibit feelings associated with the election of Donald Trump.
According to the article, Racism rears its ugly head in Lehigh Valley schools, school administrators have taken steps to eliminate the perception of racism in their schools. For example, Southern Lehigh Principal Christie Siegfried and her staff have been encountering White students yelling racial slurs, drawing swastikas, and giving Nazi salutes. Siegfried responded on November 2 by holding an assembly for students and then writing a letter to parents about what was going on in the predominately White suburban school.
It is believed that the behaviors exhibited by the White students were propelled by the presidential campaign in which president elect Donald Trump threatened to ban Muslims and build a wall to keep back Mexicans as well as presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton categorizing Trump followers as deplorable.
State and federal reports indicate that the Lehigh Valley Schools need to improve their efforts to eliminate the perception racism in their schools. State reports reveal that ten of the Lehigh Valley’s 17 districts reported no racial and ethnic incidents in the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Seven other districts reported 32 incidents in two of those years and 14 in one. However, the U.S. Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection reveals that eight Lehigh Valley school districts had 54 complaints filed regarding student reports of bullying based on race, color, or national origin in 2013-14 for which 52 students were disciplined.
The differences in the reports indicates that Lehigh Valley schools have not addressed the perception of racism appropriately. If so, then there would not be a discrepancy in the reporting of racial incidents on the state and federal level. Instead of resorting to administrative policies and procedures, Lehigh Valley schools will benefit from teachers who are racially neutral.
What are the racially neutral teacher characteristics that would help the White Lehigh students who support Donald Trump?
A racially neutral teacher develops plans to counter balance the racial differences between White teachers and Black and Hispanic students. Due to the history of slavery, conquest, and colonization, historically undeserved students believe that school is detrimental to their identity. Americans of color adapt to a society that does not value their ethnicity, history, heritage, or language by establishing societal survival strategies. Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges people by their skin color or ethnic background.
In addition to counterbalancing racial differences, racially neutral teachers will counterbalance the impact of teacher discrimination in the classroom. Teachers discriminate against students by stereotyping according to ethnicity. Teachers form negative, inaccurate, and inflexible expectations based on such attributes as the race and perceived social class of their students. This discrimination causes White teachers to have difficulty in understanding minorities due to their rejection of the students’ lifestyles. Schools exhibit the same discrimination by having a bias against students who do not share the same characteristics as White, female, middle-class teachers.
A racially neutral teacher will plan to overcome the challenges associated with the differences between the cultural expectations of the school and the cultural challenges presented to the Black students. Blacks believe schools ineffectively prepare Black children with the same skills that enable White middle-class persons to attain good jobs and wages. Blacks discourage school success as a cultural goal and respond by developing survival strategies that contribute to school failure as well as conflict with the schools. Many culturally diverse children learn how to underachieve due to their keen insight, an ability to note inconsistencies, and sensitivity to social injustices, therefore growing wary and critical of the elitist ideology promoted in schools. Blacks learn at an early age to be wary of people and systems in their environment.
A racially neutral teacher must counterbalance the challenges associated with discrimination in the classroom. Classroom interaction studies have found teachers discriminate against students who are not White, male, and middle class. White teachers create classroom problems when they interpret culture as a limitation to student progress. Teachers can reach all of their students when they understand the ways in which culture influences the educational process. Teaching Black students requires creating a culturally compatible classroom that concentrates on developing motivation rather than classroom discipline and management techniques and the teaching process of handling material as well as content.
Finally, a racially neutral teacher must plan to counterbalance the challenges associated with the differences in nonverbal and verbal behaviors. The teaching-learning process is essentially a communication event that includes verbal and nonverbal communication. Teachers and students are verbal and nonverbal message senders and receivers. Schools and Black student conflict develop from expectation differences related to communication styles. The general public fails to accept that Blacks have different communication norms and conventions by assuming that Blacks communicate using standards set by socially dominant Whites.
White students at the Lehigh Valley schools are inappropriately exhibiting characteristics associate with socially dominant Whites. The have learned through the decades that discriminatory behaviors are acceptable by observing the behaviors of their teachers. Lehigh Valley Schools can only help the Whites students who support Donald Trump by consistently exhibiting racially neutral teacher characteristics.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
“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