Are districts doing enough to fight bias and hate speech?
District leaders are increasingly under the microscope for allowing hate speech and implicit bias in education to fester on their campuses, with some schools facing the likelihood of lawsuits.
In Virginia, the state attorney general’s office recently launched an investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools for allegedly failing to provide African-American students equal access to programs and for not doing enough to combat incidents of racist bullying and “hostile learning environments” for students of color, reported the Washington Post.
In New York, the number of Brooklyn schools participating in anti-bias activities and training recently increased from 22 to 40 to combat the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents in the borough, reported the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
In Maine, the Auburn School Department has faced scrutiny for allegations of racism and harassment at their schools, the Boston Globe reported. Administrators implemented new policies, but the district now faces new criticism for how administrators summoned high schoolers over the intercom to participate in anti-bias focus groups, reported Portland Press Herald.
Even though Auburn officials didn’t identify or categorize the groups during these announcements, they still violated student privacy since “everyone in the room knew we were called because we were mostly the openly gay students of the school,” a senior who was called on the intercom told the Portland Press Herald.
Meanwhile, school districts across the country, from California and Washington, to Minnesota and New Jersey and Connecticut, have recently reported incidents of swastikas being painted or drawn on school walls and desks, according to published reports.
In Congress, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) recently reintroduced a bill that combats implicit bias in education by creating a $30 million grant program for U.S. schools to train teachers, principals and other personnel on implicit bias.
Anti-bias activities for teachers and staff
Research increasingly shows that a diverse teacher workforce leads to improved test scores and graduation rates for students of color, reported District Administration.
“Having people of color in positions of expertise and authority reduces implicit bias later in life,” Desiree Carver-Thomas, a research and policy associate at Stanford University’s Learning Policy Institute, told DA.
In Arizona, Chandler Unified School District holds implicit bias activities for teachers and staff throughout the year that feature PD sessions on de-emphasizing language proficiency in gifted assessments, trauma-informed teaching practices and behavior management, reported District Administration.
Read more from DA: Gifted and talented diversification reaches for full potential
When disciplining a disruptive student, for example, teachers who have recognized implicit bias now know to consider whether that student has a job or has to take care of younger siblings, Assistant Superintendent of K-12 Education Wendy Nance told DA.
Resource: Awareness of Implicit Biases