The alarming effect of racial mismatch on teacher expectations | Brookings Institution

This is a powerful article by Seth Gershenson, published by think-tank, Brookings.

via The alarming effect of racial mismatch on teacher expectations | Brookings Institution.

The large research study confirms that white teachers have lower expectations for black students than black teachers for the same students. In other words there is systematic racial bias in teachers’ expectations.

Whilst the author stresses that the results are not intended to demonize, the teachers’ expectations will nevertheless affect outcomes.

The author concludes that ‘Teachers can avoid the”soft bigotry of low expectations” by maintaining, and expressing, high expectations for each and every student’.

Personally, I would argue that the bigoted practices are a function of restrictive practices maintained by teaching unions.

The bigotry could be eradicated by bringing in foreign teachers into the US education system. Similary, US teachers need to be sent on a sebatical to countries where black people are the majority. Or US teachers should be encouraged to participate in the VSO program.  Also greater mobility of teachers even within the US should encouraged, so that teachers broaden their outlook. Most professions have continuous training and teaching needs some radical trarnsformation.

These findings are probably generalizable to other countries, like for example the UK, where heavily unionized restricted practices institutionalize political and social bias – despite increasing costs for UK education, output against international benchmarks is falling.


2 responses

  1. Forget the mismatch in teachers’ expectations what about the mismatch in the ability to teach in an atmosphere which allows the Teachers to teach. A 3 part documentary on BBC2 concluded this week with an experiment of having 5 Chinese teachers teach at a reasonable secondary school. After the embarrassment of seeing the behaviour of the children initially they seem to settle down and followed the Chinese system which seemed largely of ” I am the teacher, you need to listen to what I am saying and remembering what I am telling you”

    This system was frowned upon by the existing Liberal leaning English Teachers, who were looking for the children to “Express themselves”

    An independent exam at the end of the 4 week period showed the Chinese teachers had better results in English, Maths and Mandarin by a factor of 10% to 20%.

    In the words of the senior Chinese Teacher, In China if you do not study you will not get a job and you will not eat! In addition there is no question of the authority of the Teacher and the support from the parents. I feel sorry for the teachers as it appears there are no reasonable sanctions available to deal with unruly pupils. Also, what is wrong with the Chinese teaching methods, which used to be the teaching methods of this country 40 years ago?

    • Martin,

      You make a good point.

      Perhaps, it’s time for UK education to be results driven?

      The barrier is provided by the left-leaning, heavily unionized teaching profession.

      Surely, it’s time for the UK teaching profession to feel the impact of globalization, with widespread importation of foreign teachers?

      The children that have been educated by UK teachers must face globalization in terms of competition for scarce jobs, so why should the teachers be immune from competion?

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