Recent incidents in the DeWitt Public School District has prompted Superintendent John Deiter to develop plans to tackle racially motivated incidents associated with the election of Donald Trump. This administrative effort is welcomed by teachers, parents, and local community members. However, the racially motivated incidents will subside temporary without performing an organizational analysis to determine the root causes.
According to the article, DeWitt Schools making plans to tackle racism following incidents, parents, teachers, and community member were afforded the opportunity to discuss the recent racially motivated incidents. The discussion became heated and the DeWitt Public School superintendent had to intervene. DeWitt School Superintendent John Deiter stood up about an hour and a half into the meeting and answered questions.
One community member who is associated with the parents of the students who were targeted stated, “It took a long time, but I think everybody that was here was glad to hear the superintendent speak and clarify what it was that occurred, what it was that he did, that the school did.” Community member Diana Rivera continued by stating, “But there were still a lot of questions that were left unanswered.”
DeWitt High School English/Language Arts and Sociology teacher Jason Lafay says is excited to be a part of changing the culture at DeWitt Public Schools. According to Lafay, “Develop a plan and let’s start executing it. I’m rearing to go, I’ve been reading books, I want to start a study group with teachers, I want to implement a curriculum, and also do extracurricular activities and really get it out into the community as a whole.”
Herein lies the problem. Everyone is looking to the DeWitt Public School superintendent to make a quick decision. Since he has already met with the community and heard their feedback, he will base many of his plans on that information and input from administrators. This is the same process that superintendents across the country will follow to only find in the near future that the racially motivated incidents will continue.
The DeWitt Public School superintendent must begin with an organizational analysis of his schools. The process should begin with a focus on determining the answers for the following:
- What strategies can students use to eliminate racially motivated incidents?
- What strategies can teachers use to eliminate racially motivated incidents?
- What strategies can schools use to eliminate racially motivated incidents?
The organizational analysis will include both qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies. The qualitative data collection process should include individual interviews, focus group interviews, and document collection.
Interviews will provide a real-life data collection process to assist with the organizational analysis. It will help to use structured interviews. In structured interviews, all interviewees receive the same set of questions in the same order, and then the responses are coded according to some pre-established scheme. It is best to tape record the interviews. Recording interviews will provide the opportunity to transcribe interviewees’ responses verbatim.
The DeWitt Public School superintendent should use an interview guide that parallels the first four Ladder of Inference rungs. The Ladder of Inference includes:
- Observable data and experiences
- Selected data from observations
- Added cultural and personal meanings
- Assumptions made about cultural and personal beliefs
- Adopted beliefs
- Actions taken based on those beliefs
The next step includes a quantitative collection process. The best qualitative collection process utilizes Systems Thinking. Systems thinking is the study of a system’s structure and behavior that involves analyzing a system by evaluating events, patterns and trends, developing a systemic structure, and developing mental models. Evaluating patterns and trends involves using a statistical software package for coding and analyzing the racially motivated incidents. Developing a systemic structure will provide the inflection point for maximization of transforming the culture of each school. Mental models evaluate the values, attitudes, and beliefs persons are thinking that cause racially motivated incidents.
An organizational analysis will provide the necessary information to develop the best transitional process. With the appropriate organizational analysis, the transformation will have sustainability for decades. Without utilizing the prescribed process, DeWitt Public School administers can expect for racially motivated incidents to remain prominent.
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