Educational specialist across the nation take on the painstaking process to ensure that there are no implications of racism involved in the school curriculum. This process that involves the consideration of teaching techniques and materials is taken for granted until the school becomes publicly humiliated by accusations of racism. Schools leaders can avert any perceptions of racism associated with the school curriculum by assessing and enhancing the hidden curriculum that permeates throughout the culture of the school.
According to the article, Racism continues to make its way into schools via curriculum-and we are all screwed because of it, there are several examples where textbooks contribute to a racist school curriculum. In 2015, McGraw-Hill printed geography textbooks that called the enslaved Africans in the U.S. “workers”? The caption in the ninth-grade textbook accompanies a map of the U.S. in a section about immigration. It read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations. “This caption made it through several reviews and the State Board of Education and into the classrooms of 1,200 school districts in Texas before it caught the attention of a 15-year-old student who brought it to his mother’s attention. His outraged mother took to social media and was able to call attention to it. However, local lawmakers didn’t seem to think that this addition to the school curriculum created a major problem.
Thomas Ratliff, a Republican member of the state board, said the wording of the caption was not related to Texas’ school curriculum standards. “People have been looking for something to criticize and if you look for something hard enough, believe me you’ll find it. I think it was just worded improperly. I don’t think this is the tipping point for a whole bunch of other revelations.”
Another incident involved an Advanced Placement Government Exam. The question on the exam was:
One reason that minority groups are more likely to favor liberal policies is that they:
A) have highly developed political knowledge.
B) typically pay more in federal income taxes.
C) have benefited from federal social programs in the past.
D) have a greater distrust of government
E) usually belong to a high socioeconomic class
The two incidents cited as well as others that contribute to the perception of a racist school curriculum are readily seen and corrected. The bigger challenge is the racist school curriculum that is hidden.
What is a hidden school curriculum?
The hidden curriculum includes education behavior and attitudes, evaluation, institutional policies and the allocation of resources. In schools it is the day to day school curriculum operations that have a greater impact. For example, eye contact requirements can contribute to a hidden school curriculum that has implications of racism. Whites believe maintaining eye contact in face-to-face communication is most desirable and communicates trustworthiness, masculinity, sincerity, and directedness and conclude when Blacks fail to maintain eye contact that they have something to hide. Consequently, some Black parents teach their children that looking an adult in the eye is a sign of disrespect while White children learn to do the opposite.
When reprimanding Black children, they tend not to look at the teacher as a sign of respect which results in unwarranted discipline. This has become a discriminatory practice in many schools that possess a high population of historically undeserved students. It allows teachers to discriminate against students by implementing differential discipline.
Teachers with high percentages of Black students in their classroom are more likely to use an authoritarian classroom management approach which is another hidden school curriculum that has implications of racism. Teachers react to Black student learning experiences that are in opposition to traditional public schools by determining Blacks are incapable of following simple rules and therefore make rules that they deem intolerable. Educators justify these rules with the belief that historically underserved students want to be disciplined.
School leaders can eliminate the perception of racism associated with a school curriculum by evaluating the terminating symbols. For example, disproportionate discipline is a hidden school curriculum product. The school leader must conduct a thoroughly unbiased investigation of the factors that contribute to the disproportionate discipline. Afterwards, the school leader can make a informed decision as to how to correct the hidden school curriculum that contributes to the perception of racism.
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