The same racially insensitive tactics that shaped the future of American politics has created the need to implement zero tolerance racism at the school board level. School board members across the nation have prided themselves at hurling racist comments and gestures. Zero tolerance racism can only be accomplished through a process that ensures that all school board members work together as a team with a common vision for the community and children that they have been elected to serve.
According to the article King: America’s school must have zero tolerance for racism, a local Buffalo, a Buffalo New York school board member has been asked to resign by a 6 to 2 vote for racially insensitive outburst. Carl Paladino was co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign for president. He recently compared first Lady Michelle Obama to a gorilla and stated that he hoped she would be “let lose in the outback of Zimbabwe” to join the other gorillas.
Paladino is not alone with this racially insensitive behavior. For example, Michelle Obama has become the target of many racist gestures. In Kansas, Vermont, Texas, and Arkansas school representatives have called her the “First Chimp”. A Virginia school board member was also caught making racist comments about her.
Finally, an Arkansas school board member [was] seen wearing blackface photos that surfaced on social media. The Blevins School Board member, Ted Bonner, could be seen in a picture posted on Facebook wearing overalls, a straw hat and a grin with missing front teeth while displaying the misspelled sign. School administrators in Blevins, a town of around 300 people, have noted they do not have the power to remove Bonner from his elected office.
School administrators do not have the power to remove an elected official for voicing their opinion publicly. Administrators have to keep in mind that the elected official represents the public who voted for them. The conclusion is that their racist opinion must represent the opinion of their constituents.
The reality is that we all have differences in opinions as well as school board members who are elected to control and oversee the school district. School superintendents must take this same compassion and redirect it for the benefit of all students.
How can school superintendents safely implement a zero racism tolerance with school board members?
School superintendents must first consider the power relationship between a school board. The school superintendent reports to the school board and implements the mission, goals, and strategic plan developed an voted on by the school board. This is where the school superintendent must begin.
The first step is to work with the school board by developing a shared vision for all children in the school district. The mistake that most people make is that they do not begin this process with Personal Mastery. Dr. Campbell uses Personal Mastery to ensure that the Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom relationships Projects are not derailed by those who have opposite perspectives.
Personal Mastery, first developed by Peter Senge, enables individuals with differences of opinions to learn to grow an organization as a team. Personal Mastery will help school board members and school administrators to clarify what is important to the students and to see the current reality of the school district more clearly. Organizations with high levels of Personal Mastery have a sense of purpose, are in a continual mode of learning, are aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, and therefore the opportunity to grow becomes more prominent.
It is clear that many of the racist attacks that have surfaced after the election of the president is a need for persons with a racist perspectives to grow. Many communities will seek to placate the resurgence of racism in schools through zero tolerance polices. Rather than zero tolerance policies, it is better to harness that energy to the benefit of children no matter what color, race, nationality, religion, or gender specification by using Personal Mastery.
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