In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, a black man killed by police officers leaving many around the globe outraged at the police brutality towards blacks, another racial gap in society being called into attention is education. An education is what many call a basic human right, but what is missing still is equality in education, as whites are told they are more likely to succeed and score better on the educational skills taught, while blacks are punished and are far more likely to be suspended than whites. There is also very limited education of what racism is and how that has shaped communities, and due to that, there is a lack of empathy and understanding of the prevalence of systemic racism in society today. Therefore, an education focused more on engaging in conversations about civil rights through a class and changes within the school leads to a greater understanding of racial injustice in society.
Injustice In Education
Since segregated school districts were demolished, education now is not thought to still be an institution that discriminates. However, there is still one too many examples and stories about discrimination in and outside the classroom. Studies have shown that black students are more likely to be suspended than whites for the same “misdemeanors.” That alone is pulling blacks out of school for days at a time, and in the end, all that does it hurt their education. Relatedly, another study has shown the differences in blacks and whites’ achievement levels in schools. This study, compared to one in 1965, at the heart of the civil rights movement, showed that there was only a slight change in the achievement level between whites and blacks on standardized tests. Whites were more likely to have higher performance levels than blacks. This can be attributed to the lower socioeconomic levels of blacks, which in part is due to their skin color.
There’s also the issue of hiring. While students of color make up half of the students in the public school system, the percentage of colored teachers is down to one digit percentages. The school administrators are hiring predominately white teachers. Neither have received training or education on how systematic racism exists within schools. Furthermore, the white faculty are teaching civil rights through a white American lens, which is drastically different from how blacks interpreted the movement. The lack of teaching diversity also holds other issues; the few teachers of colors can feel typecast or not welcome in the predominately white school community. They serve a vital role though, being mentors to the students of color, getting through the system of hurdles.
The Classroom Approach
Another issue in education is the lack of education about systematic racism. Systematic racism is an issue because it reflects the racist realities of American societies today. However, many are unaware that this exists or that there is even racial injustice in our world, until an event, like George Floyd’s murder, brings it to light. Whites cannot be a true ally and activist for change in society, without education on what it is really like to be a black in a predominantly white world. To that end, students and teachers all over the country are petitioning for racial education classes to be added to their curriculum.
Education Reformation As A Whole
There’s a lot to be done outside of a single classroom as well. Some of the main issues in education today don’t even come from the classroom; they come from the institution as a whole. Potential solutions include increasing the diversity of the faculty and encouraging more conversations and learning about the history of blacks in America. Another possible solution is diversity training, allowing faculty themselves to have greater education about systematic racism and have them integrating it into their everyday curriculum. Policies against white supremacy could also be instated, basically ensuring that blacks are not being given a harsher punishment. Blacks’ socioeconomic status also ties in heavily into their education because it can hold them back from different educational opportunities. However, greater financial resources (such as grants and scholarships) can help schools in impoverished neighborhoods reach the same education level that the (predominately white) students in a better-off school district receive. This ensures that they still have the same equal educational opportunities as whites, even with a lower socioeconomic status.
The Benefits of Racial Education
Incorporating racial education within the school district holds several benefits. Besides lowering the instances of systematic racism, racial education will also allow students to gain an understanding for how racism has shaped the communities that they live in today. Another benefit is that after racial education, whites will have greater empathy for the challenges that blacks face every single day that whites normally don’t think twice about. The increased education of students and faculty in schools will also lead to positive changes outside of school walls. The noticing of how inequality stretches across society will spark a movement about wanting to see change, such as the already seen student-led protests.
Therefore, education reformation is important because it allows students to gain a deeper understanding of racism, how it has shaped our history/communities, and how it’s still prevalent in society today. Education reform can be found in the classroom through classes devoted to exploring systematic racism and the institution as a whole through more diverse faculty hiring, diversity training for the faculty, policies against white supremacy, and the school climate being more encouraging in having hard conversations. While these changes may make school systems a more supportive place to students of color, it is only one step to defeating racism found within our systematic societies.