Racism in America is usually associated with police violence, pay inequity, or pseudo-segregation. However, as an aspiring educator I can tell you that currently none of these issues have as damaging an effect on non-white Americans as our current education system. Now, if you’re thinking that all students receive the same education from the same teachers regardless of race or ethnicity, you would be right, but that is contributing to the problem.
According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, in the 2009-2010 school year 80 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in education were awarded to white students. These teachers teach what they know about life and they teach to the best of their abilities, but in an increasingly diverse country and interconnected world, more perspectives are needed. Students can begin to feel isolated or alone by being put into schools where they might never see someone who looks like them. This may seem inconsequential, but seeing positive role models of your race or ethnicity is vital to seeing your own potential or self-worth and students see more adults in school during their childhood than anywhere else. If the school doesn’t reflect all of their students (and most don’t), the students may fail to see their own self-worth if they don’t fall into a traditional white suburban mold.
Luckily there are hardworking teachers across the country striving to provide a well-rounded education to all their students and reassure the self-worth of the young individuals. However, these teachers are fighting an uphill battle against their own school systems and our nation’s government. With common core curriculum in place in 42 states these teachers are being forced to try to fit each student into a white-washed mold (for more on common core, click here). They are taught history from a white perspective, they learn about current events and social issues that don’t apply to their everyday lives but rather the lives of their white counterparts. This can lead to students who do not know the value of their own culture and cultural history. Not only does this negatively impact those students, but it hurts those who interact with those people as they are not exposed to new cultures and true diversity in their communities.
According to the US Department of education “minority students across America (…) have less access to rigorous high school curricula” This means that not only are students not able to see their only culture working in schools, they are also often discriminated against by administration or certain teachers. These students are not held to the same high standards as their white counterparts and therefor do not succeed at the same level to no fault of their own. Teachers should hold all students to high standards in the hope that all students reach their highest potential in school and in life.
The white-washing of American school systems needs to be changed. There are teachers working hard to overcome their own lack of cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity but governments both at state and national levels are not. Arne Duncan, the US secretary of Education and huge advocate of Common Core Education never taught a day as a classroom teacher. This lack of perspective is shown by Many who make laws and curriculum and leads to a lack understanding of the growing need for curriculum and laws that allow teachers to help students deviate from the norm rather than forcing them to conform to it. Bright young people of all races, cultures, and ethnicities must continue to flood into education related jobs to provide a better representation of their students, and to be role models for the next generations to follow.
We are torn apart by our education system as it is currently, but it could bring us together as soon as we are willing to realize the fault in our ways.