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Teacher Bias?

April 27, 2011 8 comments

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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