A local superintendent intends to combat racism amongst students without using the appropriate investigative process. The absence of the appropriate investigative process is paramount to the blind leading the blind. Superintendents who desire to effectively combat racism amongst students must first use an investigative process that determines the systemic structure and therefore provide viable and sustainable solutions.
According to the article, In talks with superintendent, Emmaus High students offer advice on combating racism, East Penn school Superintendent Michael Schilder asked students for their ideas on how to combat racism amongst students in their school district. This investigation is a result of several racist incidents which included someone writing the N-word and drawing two swastikas in the fog of a window of a school bus in the previous month.
The students made the following recommendations:
· Work with bystanders to get them to speak up when someone exhibits bigoted behavior.
· Follow up any punishment for racist behavior with counseling for the student.
· Train teachers on how to talk about racial issues.
· Don’t rely on emailing students with messages about racist incidents. Put your messages on Twitter — “Tweet it out.”
· Bring speakers on diversity and accepting others to elementary schools.
The superintendent began the process by recruiting 25 student leaders and about twenty students who are involved in the ‘No Place for Hate’ school group. This is the first critical error that was made by the superintendent. The 25 school leaders did not represent students who are involved racial challenges with other students. And the other twenty students have a biased focus. The superintendent must understand that combating racism amongst students requires improving the relationships amongst students.
The process begins with conducting a case study of the relationships amongst students. A case study will provide the opportunity to combat racism amongst students by conducting an in-depth analysis and detailed description of the challenges between students.
The case study must begin with an interview process in order to properly develop a systemic structure for combating racism amongst students. Instead of interviewing student school leaders and other students with a biased focus, it is better to select students who have been involved in incidents that have caused the need to combat racism amongst students. The best students, are students who are on the opposite end of the spectrum as well as graduating seniors. Graduating seniors will have the most insight and experience with incidents that present the need to combat racism amongst students.
The other point that the superintendent must keep in mind is how students develop positive relationships with other students. Students develop relationships the moment they walk into the school. Students are verbal and nonverbal message senders and receivers. Developing respectful relationships with students requires considerable knowledge of their verbal and nonverbal communication styles.
For example, one area of verbal misunderstanding for students is eye contact. Individuals can also use facial expressions such as eye contact to convey liking for another individual. Individuals use nonverbal cues to indicate a liking for another individual by initiating and maintaining eye contact. Whites believe maintaining eye contact in face-to-face communication is most desirable. White American employees and employers believe maintaining eye contact communicates trustworthiness, masculinity, sincerity, and directedness and conclude when Black employees fail to maintain eye contact that the Black employees have something to hide. European Americans view looking away or looking downward as a sign of disinterest, shyness, or disrespect.
Another problematic area that results in schools having to combat racism amongst students is nonverbal behaviors. Individuals use nonverbal cues to indicate a disliking for another individual by incongruent postures. Blacks’ conversing in a relaxed posture is common. However, a relaxed listening stance may indicate that the listener is tuning out the speaker. Turning away during conversation may also indicate respect and interest or a discussion of personal issues.
Schools must use a different process to improve relationships amongst students. The solutions must be sustainable for incoming students which will require a cultural transition. The process that the superintendent is utilizing will not prove effective enough to combat racism amongst students.
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
“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