SYSTEMIC RACISM IN EDUCATION
We need a bold plan to practice Anti-racist behaviors in education. We must identify the systemic racism we have been practicing, change those policies and behaviors that target black and brown children. Anti-Racist Professional Development is needed at all levels, teachers, administrators, and staff. This training must be required of all personnel. School districts must go Beyond the Textbook and use Open Source strategies.
Our students of color need teachers and administrators that look like them. In Contra Costa County districts over 60% of our student population are children of color. Approximately 25% of our teachers are diverse ethnically. Clearly we need to do more to recruiting, supporting, mentoring, and maintaining teachers of color. Having role models increases self-confidence, and improves academics for black and brown students.
Test results are weaponized when the scores of children of color are compared to white students attending predominantly white schools in wealthier neighborhoods, creating underlying racist assumptions and utilizing labels such as “failing students” attending “failing schools” with “failing” teachers. These tests have been shown to amplify harm to children including damaging self-esteem, creating self-doubt, low student engagement and a hatred of school.. They are used to deny students into the Gifted and Talented Programs. The students become prone to being retained to repeat grades, receiving “dumbed” down curriculum, being denied diplomas, and being pushed to drop-out. They create severe inequities, additionally hurting low-income, English Learners, and Special Ed students. A common consensus amongst educators is that Standardized tests, with their needlessly competitive and oppressively hierarchical nature, are not accurate, a waste of valuable instructional time and institutional resources. Teachers feel punished, have low job satisfaction, and leave the profession. It was even once proposed to tie teacher salaries to test results! High quality teaching has been replaced by “effective teaching” which just means to teach the test and to score high points, like a computer program. Ibram X. Kendi, of the The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University and author of How to be an Antiracist, states: “Standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to object objectively degrade black minds and legally exclude their bodies.” Historically these tests were created by eugenics scientists who believe that genetic inferiority in humans could be proven through testing. This dates back to 1916. These racist tests are used to maintain elitism by stigmatizing and segregating students, schools and neighborhoods. So, when you hear policymakers demanding more and more data, and metrics, they are perpetuating the use of this dehumanizing weapon, clearly aimed at black and brown populations, of low income and with special needs. The only good type of testing out there that we should pursue is no standardized testing. We must cease and desist these oppressive practices of Standardized Testing in our Public Schools and save public education in the process.There are many organized efforts and protests to end this testing from teachers, students and parents it is called the 'Opt Out Movement.' These tests must be replaced with multiple measures and Project Based Learning. Assessments need to involve the student in the process. The assessments need to inform instruction. The assessments must inform parents about their individual child's strengths and areas to work on, so together the parent/teacher partnership can move the student to academic success.