November 5, 2018

TEACHER VOICE: Justice and equity for all students? We aren’t there yet

Read the entire op-ed by E4E-Minnesota member Cristina Benz on the Hechinger Report.

“Teachers treat kids differently when they do the same thing. Often with a white kid, they just laugh it off as no big deal, while a kid of color faces consequences.”

“As a white girl, no one gets suspicious of anything I do. Adults always assume I’m doing the right thing,”

“Often white parents know the system really well and advocate and ‘complain’ their kids out of situations.”

Students shared these reflections in my school’s racial justice youth group. Hearing them was devastating. As a teacher, I strive to treat all of my students fairly and equitably, as I hope all educators around the country strive to do. But while we may proclaim equity for all, the reality is that too many of our schools treat students very differently, national data reveal. We are not where we need to be as a nation that claims to value justice and equity for all students.

The consequences of harsh and punitive systems with deeply embedded inequities are catastrophic: Students who have been suspended even once are three times more likely than their peers to be incarcerated later. And black students are three and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students, often for the same behavior that goes unpunished in classmates. There are also alarming disparities for boys, students with disabilities and English language learners.

To read the complete op-ed, visit the Hechinger Report.