I watched a few TED talks today about kids. One of them I posted yesterday if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. This young woman was in college she met someone from the inner city of Philadelphia and she asked him if she could do a paper on him and he agreed. That paper became a dissertation and ultimately a book. At a time when many white students are preparing for their life by going to college, many black youth are preparing each other be learning how to evade the police, because they know it’s just a matter of time before they become a target. Kids playact what they see. A game of tag becomes instead pretending to be a cop and a criminal and learn how to arrest each other and pretend to cuff their playmates and pretend to do cavity searches. This is real life to them.
What makes it even harder for black youth is the way schools punishment them, starting with the attitude of many teachers. An after school fight for two white boys more than likely end end with their parents being called. If you are black, more than likely the police will be called and they get their first taste of jail and end up with fines they can’t pay. If they can’t pay they are arrested again for that. It begins a spiral down that becomes an inability to finish a high school education. Forget college. The spiral only continues in one direction. The school to prison pipeline is set.
This is what happened to Jamie’s life, and there was no one who could help him or his mother change the outcome. By the time he was in his mid teens with his high school years just beginning, the court system was doing it’s best to end his possibilities. He is still trying to get his GED. He would love to have an education. At age 32 now with more time to go and still having no education, what are his chances? It takes more than wishful thinking. Because there is no one else willing to do the legwork, I have been research to find out what his options are. There is a school for inmates in Dallas called the Windham School. http://www.windhamschooldistrict.org/ Educating inmates lowers the recidivism rate back to prison. Getting a GED, learn a trade or take college classes. I don’t know yet what it will take to get him involved or when it can begin, but it worth finding out. I can only think that something like this would help him with parole. This isn’t automatically offered to inmates. You need someone on the outside who takes the time to find out about it. There needs to be more stress on inmate education if you want to slow down the revolving door for those who want to get off the ride.
I recently found the article below. It explains how difficult it becomes for black students when they get labeled as a troublemaker by their teachers. If a child has a mental deficiency such as autism, parents get upset if their children are labeled. They want their children to have the greatest chance of success. But racism in early education by teachers makes getting an education much more difficult for black students, especially in the inner cities where it can be made worse by extreme poverty. Discriminating against children because of the color of their skin, not taking into account how smart or artistic the child might be, how many of these children get labeled a troublemaker when a white child wouldn’t be – for doing the same thing? Yes, white children can be labeled a troublemaker, but they would have to do much more to earn that label. Below is the link to the original article.
Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to Stanford researchers.
Yet the psychological processes that contribute to those differences have not been clear – until now.
“The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is beyond dispute,” said Stanford psychology Professor Jennifer Eberhardt in an interview. “What is less clear is why.”
In the study, “Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students,” which was recently published in the journal Psychological Science, Eberhardt and Stanford psychology graduate student Jason Okonofua reported on two experimental studies that showed that teachers are likely to interpret students’ misbehavior differently depending on the student’s race.
In the studies, real-world primary and secondary school teachers were presented with school records describing two instances of misbehavior by a student. In one study, after reading about each infraction, the teachers were asked about their perception of its severity, about how irritated they would feel by the student’s misbehavior, about how severely the student should be punished, and about whether they viewed the student as a troublemaker.
A second study followed the same protocol and asked teachers whether they thought the misbehavior was part of a pattern and whether they could imagine themselves suspending the student in the future.
The researchers randomly assigned names to the files, suggesting in some cases that the student was black (with a name such as DeShawn or Darnell) and in other cases that the student was white (with a name such as Greg or Jake).
Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student.
In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.
“We see that stereotypes not only can be used to allow people to interpret a specific behavior in isolation, but also stereotypes can heighten our sensitivity to behavioral patterns across time. This pattern sensitivity is especially relevant in the schooling context,” Eberhardt said.
These results have implications beyond the school setting as well.
As Okonofua said, “Most social relationships entail repeated encounters. Interactions between police officers and civilians, between employers and employees, between prison guards and prisoners all may be subject to the sort of stereotype escalation effect we have identified in our research.”
Both Okonofua and Eberhardt suggested that useful interventions with teachers would help them to view student behavior as malleable rather than as a reflection of a fixed disposition, such as that of troublemaker.
While racial disparities can be lessened by psychological interventions that help improve black students’ behaviors in class, it is also important to understand how that behavior is interpreted by teachers and school authorities, Okonofua said.
Jason A. Okonofua, psychology: (650) 736-9861, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer L. Eberhardt, psychology: (650) 703-2224, email@example.com
Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, firstname.lastname@example.org