How White Teachers Perceive the Problem of Racism in Their Schools: A Case Study in "Liberal" Lakeview
by Julie Kailin - 1999
This study examined white teachers' perceptions of racism in their schools. An open ended questionnaire was administered to 222 teachers in a medium sized highly rated middle-class Midwestern school district. Teachers were asked to provide examples of racism in their schools. Teachers' responses were analyzed and coded according to major themes which were collapsed into three major categories: attribution of racial problems to Whites; attribution of racial problems to Blacks; attribution of racial problems to institutional/cultural factors. Research findings indicate that most white teachers operated from an impaired consciousness about racism; that a majority "blamed the victim," assigning causality for racism to Blacks. Findings further indicate that of those who witnessed racist behavior by their white colleagues, the majority remained silent and did not challenge such behavior. Because teachers play a pivotal role in the sum total of race relations in education, it is critical to consider how they perceive the problem of racism in their schools. Their perceptions may influence decisions about how to interpret and respond to racial inequality. Part One of this article describes the context and setting of the research study. Part Two describes the results of the study and implications for teacher education.
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