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Teacher Bias?

Teacher Bias?

            There are many events that go on in a school, but one general idea is that the student’s education is the most important factor of all. In turn, most schools will try to do everything they can to try and make sure that the students get the most out of their school experience. There are many factors that can increase or decrease the level of experience the student receives; teacher pay, standardized testing, teacher training, and college admissions are just a few topics that contribute to this. One problem that is overlooked by school administration is teacher bias.

Teacher bias is where teachers will play favorites according to the clique status of the student. For an example, band kids in a math class are all receiving bad grades. These students go in before and after school to get help on everything that they do not understand. Yet, they are still receiving bad grades. One girl thinks that this is incorrect so she decides to check her grades online. She finds that papers that came back with grades are entered as zeros in the grade book, as if she never turned in the work. She also finds that grades on the papers and grades in the grade book do not match, so she takes all of the papers to the teacher. The teacher enters the correct grades, and her grade goes from a low D to a high B. This issue was not a mistake. It was done on purpose because of teacher bias. The girl in this example was me, and that is why I chose to write about this particular topic.

Teacher bias can be considered a form of bullying. Barbara Coloroso’s book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School, breaks down what bullying is considered. (http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=krsowK_K9OgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=what+teachers+can+do+to+reduce+cliques&ots=UsofP_uxXe&sig=nXmZYTwciNJTa8CKS74136Rlf70#v=onepage&q&f=false).  She describes bullies as tormentors because the bullied students are not just being teased. They are being tormented because the bullying affects the way they feel about themselves. Each year, 1 out of 13 people under the age of 19 attempt suicide due to bullying, a rate which has tripled in the last 20 years (http://www.suicide.org/). It is a teacher’s job to stop any bullying seen. To be a part of the bullying as a teacher is completely out of line. A reason for why a teacher may fall into this can be due to them being bullied as a student in high school. Some teachers want the acceptance from the popular students. They want to be the “cool” teacher (these are usually the ones that were bullied in high school). It is almost as if they are afraid of the popular students. Other teachers just do not like the “unpopular” kids. These teachers were the popular kids in high school. A person’s “clique status” usually sticks with them for the rest of their life (http://regions.hrsa.gov/adults/tip-sheets/default.aspx#educators). Some people argue that bullying is good for students. It could be as a way that readies them for how to deal with difficult people later on in life, but how would being bullied by a teacher do any good? It would only hurt the student’s self-confidence even more seeing as how the downing was coming from someone who is supposed to be a role model.

What can schools do to stop this? One thing they can do is observe their teachers better. It might be useful to get someone who the teacher does not know to observe for them, that way the teachers will not “put on an act” while being watched by an administrator. Another thing that they could do is take into account the “clique status” of the students getting bad grades. Administrators and teachers are well aware of the cliques students belong to. It might also help for them to discourage any clique activities when they are seen. Penelope Eckert, an anthropologist that studies high school students, believes that cliques are unhealthy to students. She states that students join cliques to be a part of something and experience different types of personalities. Unfortunately, this is harmful to their individuality, and their education. They become so involved in being accepted, that they try to be like someone their not and completely throw aside their education http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=RtTZ230kVPYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=cliques+in+highschool&ots=NVL8wPGu1x&sig=cuS1hQTUFOyzjDsWmKJ8dFybedI#v=onepage&q&f=false(). The most important thing every member of faculty in a school can do is learn as much as they can about every kind of bullying, and know the best strategies to take when trying to solve the problem (http://regions.hrsa.gov/adults/tip-sheets/default.aspx#educators ).

If the main focus of a school is the student’s education, then why do things such as teacher bias go on? One of the most common reasons that nothing is done about teacher bias is because the administrators do not believe the students when they try to tell them that it is going on. When I tried to tell my administrators, even though I had evidence to back it up, they still seemed to ignore it. They could have thought that I had something against the teacher, or they were afraid to confront the teacher about it. This could be because the administrators are afraid to upset or fire the teacher because they have been there for a long time (usually longer than the administrators themselves) (http://regions.hrsa.gov/adults/tip-sheets/default.aspx#educators ). In conclusion, administrators and teachers must make themselves aware of these issues if they want any chance of stopping them. If nothing is done about teacher bias, it may harm the student’s education, which is something no one would want to do on purpose.

Works Cited

Coloroso, Barbara. The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School. New York: Harper Collins, 2003. Print.

Ekert, Penelope. Jocks and Burnouts: Social Categories and Identity in the High School. New York: Teachers College Press, 1989. Print.

McEvoy, Alan. Teachers Who Bully Students: Patterns and Policy Implications. Illinois: Research Press, 2005. Print.

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support. Suicide.org. n.d. Web. 4 April, 2011.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Stop Bullying Now. Widmeyer,  n.d. Web. 4 April, 2011.

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  1. Chrissy Smith
    April 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    When I was in grades K-12, well, what part I remember of them, some teachers did seem to be a little unfair in class. Most of those “bias” teachers didn’t really seem to notice whether or not the student was popular or unpopular though. It was more of who was in sports. Most of those students seemed to get good grades, whether they were doing their work or not. Like if, football season was in and the school really wanted to win, then athletes would not have to try as hard as others to “make the grades”. I unfortunately was not an athlete, but that never really held me back in class, so in some ways I agree that teachers can be bias, but at the same time I think that sometimes it is the students who are a little bias. Like when students get mad at other students and say things that are not true just so they can pick the side of other students or teachers. In a way I guess we are all a little bias sometimes. I did think that this essay made a good point and by sticking to what she had first stated, it makes a really good paper. The author really gave me something to think about, so I am really glad I read this paper in particular.

  2. josh marshall
    May 4, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Favoritism is a big issue in schools today, and is just getting worse. I feel that teachers are becoming too laid back in today’s world and like certain students more than others. Especially students who are involved in sports and do exceptionally well in these sports. If these athletes are failing or close to failing, I’ve known teachers who will pass them or boost their grade up just so they can play. However the whole sexual thing with teachers and students can go along with the same thing. If a student is doing poorly in a subject they may flirt with the teacher, which could lead into sex or something along the lines of sex. And the teachers will obviously give the student a good grade if they will do this with them.

  3. Logan Wilson
    May 4, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Being a former high school student, and a high school athlete I can relate to this teacher bias. When I played baseball for the school we used to have practice in the morning before school even started. This was hard on the players and made us really tired come time for class. I used to sleep through my first two periods. My teachers knew I was tired and was ok with it. I found it odd that the teachers would get mad at other kids in the class who would sleep but not me. In then I realized that bias was in the air. Personaly It didnt bother me but I considered the feelings of my other classmates. The teachers would always help me out after class with things i had trouble on and maybee they would fix my grades so I could still play ball. Reading this paper made my realize that they were bias, and the paper was really well written and had some good points on this topic.

  4. IMH
    May 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    What i can remember of my school days it did seem that teachers were a little bias on where you came from or what family you were in. For example back in my home town growing up if you were say a “smith” then you had the teachers good graces and you were a popular kid. On up in my middle school days things didnt change much only if you got into trouble thats when you had a band on you as the kid who causes trouble. Once i got up into high school things did cahnge i stopped worrying about all the little things and just started being me. I could still see the teachers bias reactions to some students whos parents were big money but that made no difference to me because one we graduated these student either got married or were knocked up.

  5. September 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I am glad that I am not the only one that has seen this go on, though it would be nice if it did not. I believe it is our job as future educators of America to make sure that we, like others have before, do not ignore these types of situations.

  6. Nini
    May 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I am seeing this now with my 7th grade daughter… gym teacher has a nickname for her favorite student and no one else. She regularly picks this girl and her friends in her clique to lead activities. It is most often the popular kids that are chosen for academic awards when it is clear that there are many less popular, much smarter kids more qualified for these awards. Frustrating! As teachers, they should make a concerted effort to not act this way as it is hard enough already to be a 7th grade girl.

  7. Lisa
    May 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    My son was tormented by a particular teacher. He even suffered a nervous breakdown because of it before I found out what was going on. There should be legal ramifications for this type of behavior!!

  8. John Smith
    June 7, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I am an 9th grader in high school and is an Asian-White descendent. I am somewhat disprutive in classes like math, history, and english, but never enough to be referred to the dean. My English Honors teacher. a white lady, sees and grades me with much prejudice. First, all white students that looks white are given many praises and easy A’s. Second, she has many times look at me with disgust and told me to shut up after my replies to a certain student in defense. Lastly, she gave me a C on an essay because she “couldn’t find which piece of writing was the final draft.” That last example was the final straw for me. I poltily asked her, “If I rearrange this to proper order, would you regrade this?” She sharply yelled, “No!” Then when I said loudly, “I asked another student when we turning it in if order matter and he said no.” At this point, she compeletly ignores me and looks in the other direction at a blog site! I walked away and threw the paper on to the ground in disgust. Seeing this, she starts yelling at me about how its not her fault the way she grades and continued to scream at me as I exited the room. To prove to myself that it is not just my opinion I have asked many other older students who have had her as a teacher. All of them had at least said that she was unfair and insensitive. Some who are earning A’s in AP English have described her as unpassionate about teaching, inpolite, and horrible to be around. She is also by far the worst teacher I have ever encountered.

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