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Time to navigate the landscape of Competency #2 – Recognizing and Redressing Bias in the System in/adjacent to our Educational System. Our goal is to provide new insights and resources for you to contemplate and or use to your advantage when thinking about bias and systems.
Culturally responsive educators understand the difference between bias at the personal level (i.e. racist speech) and bias at the institutional level or systemic level (i.e. housing discrimination). They seek to deepen their understanding of how identity markers (i.e. those assigned by race, ethnicity, ability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and gender) influence the educational opportunities that students receive. Sonia Nieto suggests that teachers ask questions like: “Where are the best teachers assigned?”, Which students take advanced courses?” and “Where are resources allocated?” A wide range of resources and professional learning opportunities are now available to help teachers learn more about the ways that institutional racism and other systemic biases disadvantage some groups of students and privilege others. Teachers who take advantage of these resources understand that not all learners are equally rewarded for their hard work. These educators advocate for the disruption of school and district-level practices, policies, and norms that hold students back. Conversely, teachers who are poorly informed about institutional biases may blame learners and perceived cultural deficiencies for academic achievement disparities.
A STORY ABOUT BIAS
A father and his young son sit inside a restaurant, finishing up their meal. They look out to see the beginnings of a big storm. When they finish their meal and pay, the storm has gotten much worse and they run through the parking lot to their car and start to head home.
The storm is blinding and it’s difficult to see anything past the torrential downpour on the road. They decide it’s best to pull over but just before they do, they hydroplane and crash into a concrete barrier. Both of them are in terrible condition. Upon the arrival of paramedics, the father is pronounced dead and the young son is in critical condition. He is airlifted to the closest trauma hospital.
The son is quickly prepped for emergency surgery on the way to the hospital. The doctor slated to perform the surgery lays eyes on the young boy and says, “I can’t operate on him. He is my son.”
Who is the Doctor?
The Boy’s Mother
It’s important that we understand how society has altered our biases based on gender, race, class, etc. Stories like this force us to challenge our internal thoughts about biases.
Implicit bias – our subconscious association of race – permeates everything that we do. And we must pursue systemic accountability to fix it.
Human Rights Advocate