The Importance Of Teachers Treated Students Differently Based On Race, Ethnicity, Class, And Gender

The Importance Of Teachers Treated Students Differently Based On Race, Ethnicity, Class, And Gender

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From an early age I was aware that teachers treated students differently based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender. From K-12, I attended racially, ethnically, and economically diverse public schools. Some of my classmates’ parents had Ivy League educations and others were had little education. Interestingly, among my classmates, there were both educated people and uneducated people on welfare. The teachers’ prejudices were always clear though; the upper-class, white, blonde-haired kids were the favorites, and the children of color were always the ones in trouble. There were only two Black teachers in my elementary school—and they were not regular classroom teachers; one was in the resource room and the other was in guidance. In sixth grade we had a Black gym teacher. Finally, in seventh grade, I had a Black female role model—Ms. Olivia Lynch. She was a very caring and highly effective teacher who treated us all well, but always stood up for the children of color. I still call her for advice.
There were times when I felt my class (working class) and my gender (female) were perceived negatively by my teachers, and I saw how other children’s home advantages or disadvantages played out in the classroom. It made me angry to watch as teachers treated Black or Hispanic children as inferior. I wonder now what kind of conversations about race these children had at home and what their parents told them about surviving this often subtle but relentless discrimination at school.
I attended a primarily Black college in the 1990’s (CCNY). I was often the only white student in my classes. I did not feel special or privileged, but I often felt more prepared than my classmates—many of whom were immigrants and slightly older than me. No one there...

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...ers seem to believe that a better alternative would be to pair students with teachers who look and sound like them, or like people in their families, in the name of having a positive role model or mentor. There’s no doubt that we need more teachers of color in our schools, but we also have to deal with the situation that exists today. Many white teachers are discouraged, believing that they are ill-equipped to meet the needs of students of color simply because they don’t have the same experiences as them. In response, they freeze.
We cannot all have the same experiences, but we must have the same goals: to understand that each student is a unique individual with unique perspectives, to nurture the healthy development of each student, and to educate each student despite any class, race, gender or cultural boundaries we may believe stand in the way.

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