As a nation grappling with the harsh realities of systemic racism and racial injustice, it is crucial to address the connection between educational practices and the continued marginalization of Black communities. In my recently published article titled “Schooling While Black” in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice, I delve into the ways that injustices within educational policy contribute to the racial disparities we see in today’s society. In this blog post, I will provide an overview of the key points from the article and discuss the steps we can take to reform our education system to better serve Black students.
The School-to-Prison Pipeline and Racial Disparities in Education
The school-to-prison pipeline is a term used to describe the way that public schools contribute to the marginalization of Black children. This pipeline is fueled by anti-Black policies such as high-stakes assessments and zero-tolerance discipline policies, which disproportionately affect Black students. These policies have led to generations of poor outcomes, including academic underachievement, exclusionary discipline practices, and ultimately, involvement in the carceral system.
In “Schooling While Black,” I discuss the discipline gap, which refers to the disproportionate and differential use of exclusionary discipline against Black and other racially marginalized students. This gap begins as early as preschool and continues throughout a student’s K-12 education. The resulting disparities in educational opportunities and harsher discipline practices enacted against Black students have devastating implications for their future success and overall well-being.
The Path to Educational Reform and Equity
To address the issues of racial disparities in our education system, we must first acknowledge and understand the underlying systems of oppression that perpetuate these problems. Behavior analysts, educators, and other professionals must continuously analyze and critique their biases, assumptions, and thoughts, recognizing how these beliefs seep into their work.
Beyond awareness, we must also take intentional action to dismantle the racist ideals that permeate American education. This includes scrutinizing the behavioral referral process, reforming assessment practices, and ensuring that functional behavior assessments (FBAs) and behavior intervention plans (BIPs) are implemented with fidelity and equity in mind.
The fight for educational equity and justice for Black students is far from over. By addressing the systemic racism that exists within our educational policies and practices, we can begin to create a more inclusive and equitable learning environment for all students. We must continue to work towards dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and ensuring that Black children have the same opportunities to thrive as their peers. I encourage you to read my full article in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice to gain a deeper understanding of these issues and join the conversation on educational reform.
If you’re interested in learning more about the issues discussed in this blog post, I invite you to read my full article, “Schooling While Black,” published in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice. Join the conversation on educational reform and share your thoughts on how we can work together to create a more equitable and just education system for all students. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of Black children and their communities.
Sevon, M.A. Schooling While Black: Analyzing the Racial School Discipline Crisis for Behavior Analyst. Behav Analysis Practice 15, 1247–1253 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-022-00695-8