Black preschoolers are far more likely to be suspended, according to federal data, mirroring the harsher discipline they’re likely to experience in K-12 schools.
A new Yale study concluded that white and black preschool teachers expect trouble from black boys, reports Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic. However, white teachers tended to go easy on black children, while black teachers were tougher on black students.
Asked to observe video clips of children to spot “challenging behaviors,” teachers more closely observed black boys, an eye-tracking system found.
Then teachers read bout behaviors such as “difficulties napping and following instructions to blurting out answers and taunting other children,” writes Anderson.
Each vignette contained a pre-selected, stereotypical black or white boy or girl name: DeShawn, Jake, Latoya, and Emily. The participants were then asked to rate the severity of the behavioral challenges—the only difference in each vignette was the perceived race and sex of the child—and the likelihood that they would recommend suspension or expulsion.
White teachers appeared to have lower expectations of black children, finding them as a group more prone to misbehavior, “so a vignette about a black child with challenging behaviors [was] not appraised as … unusual, severe, or out of the ordinary.”
Conversely, black teachers seemed to hold black preschoolers to a higher behavioral standard; pay notably more attention to the behaviors of black boys; and recommend harsher, more exclusionary discipline.
Black parents believe they need to be tough to prepare their children for “a harsh world,” says researcher Walter Gilliam, a Yale professor. “It seems possible that the black preschool teachers may be operating under similar beliefs … that black children require harsh assessment and discipline.”
Tracking black boys more doesn’t prove “implicit bias,” argues Kay Hymowitz of City Journal. Nobody says teachers have “implicit bias” against boys, even though they track them much more than girls, she adds.
BTW, I first heard “implicit bias” from Hillary Clinton in the first debate. Since then, I’ve heard it multiple times a day. I miss plain old “bias.”