“Training teachers to understand bias will not eliminate it, but it could create an institutional environment in which it is clear that understanding bias and its effects is critically important. The long-term return on investment is inestimable.” – SORAYA CHEMALY
Over the past few years, statistics have shown an increase in racially disproportionate discipline ending in what is called the School to Prison Pipeline. Zero Tolerance policies and a more direct link to the criminal justice system through School Resource Officers have influenced this trend. In addition, research has shown a major contributor to this issue is the implicit bias of school personnel. According to the Ohio State University Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (2016), implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Implicit bias does not necessarily align with our explicit beliefs.
Implicit bias is developed in our pre-adult years by our personal experiences. As educators, it can influence the way we respond to our students because we perceive students based on our implicit bias. The impact of this can create “cultural deficit thinking” based on appearance, behavior, and language. The consequence is that the number of referrals and degree of disciplinary action varies according to race, especially in subjective situations of disrespect, disruption, and defiance. As a result, these students miss instructional time, often have poor academic outcomes, drop out, and are more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system.