Principals show bias in responses to Black parents, new study finds

By: | April 27, 2021

A few years ago, thousands of high school principals across the country received a variation of the same email from a parent asking for “any information you can provide about enrolling.”

When the email was sent by “Emily Walsh” seeking to enroll her son “Greg,” 64% of principals responded. But when an identical message came from “Tamika Washington” with a son named “Jamal,” the response rate fell to 57%.

The emails were actually sent by two political scientists, Zachary Oberfield and Matthew Incantalupo, in an effort to gauge racial bias in public schools. Their findings — that principals are less likely to respond to parents who they may have assumed were Black — illustrate one way that bias plays out in schools nationwide, aligning with past research as well as the experiences of many families.

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