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How Racist Teachers Affect Kids of Varying Abilities

By: Krystle Crossman

Students are very dependent on their teachers when it comes to learning. They feed off of the teacher’s energy and feedback. When the feedback is positive they feel like they are doing a good job and will continue to be an excellent performer. When the feedback is negative they get discouraged and may not even bother trying because they feel like they are not good enough. But what happens when a student who earns great grades has a teacher that is being racially biased?

A study was conducted on teachers at the first grade level. The creator of the study was Sociologist Yasmiyn Irizarry who is from the University of Texas at Austin. She stated that when children sense that they are being stereotyped by their teacher they may not perform as well as they could. The study showed that teachers who had a racial bias and went by stereotypes ranked the low-performing minority children higher than the low-performing white children and the high-performing minority children lower than their white counterparts. What this does is show the students in the minority groups that even when they achieve their best, their teacher still may not regard them as a top performer because of their race.

This racial bias can be extremely detrimental to a student and how they learn. If the teachers rank a low-performing minority student higher because of their background they may fail to see that the student is actually struggling with their work and needs more help in order to get the education that they need. Alternately, they could be holding back students who are gifted because they do not want to see the full potential that the child has and will not challenge them enough. Either one of these scenarios can be very costly to the student and the course of their education.

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