How Racist are We? Lessons from Google and the Obama Campaign

In yesterday’s NY Times, there was a piece about the last presidential election and correlations between racially-charged Google searches generated from certain parts of the Nation and Obama’s election results in these same regions.  I found the article compelling enough to suggest you read it.  Search:  How Racist are we?  Ask Google New York Times Sunday June 10, 2012 .
This or any study cannot prove any sort of causality between racism, how we choose to conduct Internet searches, and how we choose to vote.  These type studies can only report on correlations and patterns.
What we can more confidently rely on are the ill-effects of racism on the effective teaching and academic performance of children who represent any sort of racial or other minority “class”. We have studied this topic deeply and know the risks.  For educational leaders, here are some warning signs:
1.  Over-reliance on blaming the family or breakdown of traditional family structures for reasons students are not performing adequately in school.  Sure, we know that family support matters, but blaming breakdowns or non-traditional family structures are excuses and in-fact I believe indicative of racism at-worst, and masking not knowing how to teach at-best.
2.  Different expectations for certain students who are subjected to bullying than for others.  Especially where students are of a small minority (race-, gender-, ethnic-, or perceived lifestyle-orientation- based) there exists reluctance of educators or other adults to intervene, show commensurate support, or supportive treatment, there develops a corresponding issue of distrust on the part of the “minority child” to rely of the school period.
3.  Clashes of religious-affiliation differences create similar negative and dangerous dynamics for students who might affiliate with a more “minority” or perceived “inferior” religion.  These students become overtly and even covertly ostracized and their similar checking-out of school as a place they can trust, thrive, and grow.
In my work at Distinctive Schools and Atlantic Research Partners, I encounter many faculty members go beyond the issues of race, bigotry, and any sort of “minority” status to help all students succeed to their potential.  Observing the academic results in certain schools where an “all means” and everyone-must-be-on-track-for-college-and-career-readiness schooling culture exist, makes me hopeful.  Watching the results in many other schools, networks, and districts makes me equally disturbed.
Have a great week.

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