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Districts Screening Teachers for Racial Biases: ‘Can you Teach Students That Don’t Look Like You?’

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Photo By Sergey Novikov

Although teaching is generally a more liberal profession, it is liberals themselves who appear to have the least amount of faith in teachers if they feel compelled to ask questions such as “can you teach these students, even if they don’t look like you?”

As insulting as it may be, that is the wave of the future as districts begin “screening for racial biases during teacher job interviews” reports EdWeek.Org. In its report, EdWeek writes “teachers’ racial biases result in lowered expectations for students of color, discriminatory disciplinary practices, and curricula that don’t represent students’ cultures.”

But, “experts say that school districts are increasingly asking teacher-candidates questions about cultural competency, race, and equity during the application and interview process.” Experts also say districts’ attempts to diversity their teaching force to better “match” their students, progress is slow.

Chairwoman for the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, Karen Rice-Harris, stated:

“Ultimately, when we’re looking for people to serve our students, my key questions are: Can you teach these students, even if they don’t look like you, [even if] you’re not familiar with their culture? How are you going to teach them as if they were your child, your cousin, your brother, your sister?”

Rice-Harris also says questions about their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, empathy, and students’ social-emotional needs must also be asked of the potential teachers by administrators.

Lauren Dachille, founder of a teacher-hiring software company that works with roughly 500 districts across the country, says after the death of George Floyd, “now that we’ve become a little more aware of the concept of anti-racism and maybe a little more woke as a culture, I do think that districts have started to emphasize these questions a little bit more.”

Dachille says many districts ask about the teachers’ past experience working with diverse groups of students, and inquire on how they will create a classroom culture for all students to feel valued. Districts also want to know whether or not teacher candidates believe all students have the capacity to learn and thrive academically, she said.

Below are some examples of the interview questions Rice-Harris believes shoud be asked of  teacher-candidates to determine their commitment to diversity, equity, and empathy:

•    Sometimes, there is a belief that a commitment to diversity conflicts with a commitment to excellence. How would you describe the relationship between diversity and excellence?
•    What elements would you find in a curriculum that honors inclusion of different cultures, abilities, and perspectives?
•    An overrepresentation of students from historically marginalized populations receiving special education services continues to exist. Why do you think this occurs and how would you address this issue within your role?
•    How do you foster relationships with students who may not meet your academic or behavioral expectations?
•    What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? How can each impact your ability to teach?
•    Provide an example of how you have/could address the social and emotional needs of students to foster increased student-engagement and learning.

Dachille claims candidates appreciate and expect such questions. “I have heard districts say that candidates appreciate the screen for cultural competency, and they have had high-quality candidates give in their feedback that that is something that drew them to the district” she said.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Debbie

    December 17, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Sounds like a candidate who wants a job would not get it if they disagree with the questions asked. No equity seen in questionnaire. Left side represented only.

  2. William Anderson

    December 21, 2021 at 7:35 am

    That’s why so many r on welfare. Bussing trashed every city in America, the damage is done. The old saying, You can take the black kid out of the ghetto, but you cant take the ghetto out of the black kid. That is the parent fault. Mom teaches the child hatred towards whites, The kids resent being taught by whites. Stop bussing stop the problem, blacks teachers will teach hatred of whites, whites will teach writing reading science math and so on…

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