Outrage In America

How Are Schools Responding To Racism Right Now?

The national push for racial equality is propelling some school districts to change.

How Are Schools Responding To Racism Right Now?
Mark J. Terrill / AP

The national push for racial equality is propelling some school districts to change. One example is Muncie, Indiana, Community Schools. 

Officials there plan to appoint a director of diversity, require implicit bias training for school resource officers and review the current curriculum.  

“We leave it often to the teachers to be developing their curriculum to teach, so that's where we believe we can do a little bit better by working to create some lessons or to find books or materials that we would be able to to provide to help when they're teaching throughout the school year,” said Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, director of public education and CEO of the Muncie Community Schools. 

In a district of 6,000 students, only about 10% of teachers are people of color. And it's not just Muncie.

According to the most recent available data from the 2017-2018 school year, just 7% of the country’s public school educators were Black. Seventy-nine percent were White.  

Revamping hiring practices is one of the nine items the Akron, Ohio, Public Schools are working on after the school board recently declared racism a public health crisis.  

“When you talk about hiring practices, you have to go all the way back to the posting," said N.J. Akbar, vice president of the board of education at the Akron Public Schools. "How's the job description written? Is there racism latent within that job description? Is there racism embedded, unintentionally, perhaps, in the way we screen our candidates before they even get out of that pool?"

But change in education can take time, especially in a system that has struggled to correctly teach Black history. That is evident in the public statements many districts have been sharing, where the language used varies from the explicit to the divided.

“Once all of these statements have been written, once all of this work, this initial work, has been done, how is all of this going to be any different?" said Limarys Caraballo, deputy executive director of urban education at The Graduate Center, CUNY.  "And I think that that's where the bulk of the work really now needs to be focused.”