Racial Discrimination in Public Schools

Published 16 Feb 2017

Table of content


The term racial discrimination creates a distinction between one group of people with another. This is normally based on the skin color, facial features and the hair texture. It normally vary depending on the culture, and social economic factors that lead on the decision by teachers and students in choosing who is to succeed and who is to fail in the school performance of the students. We find that this discrimination in schools has led to unequal disciplining system among other factors in schools.

Effects of Racial discrimination

Teachers are said to be practicing discipline on students depending on the race, gender and socio-economic factors, though many people including teachers argue that the discipline and policy practices in schools are balanced and objective. There are still main causes that lead to an increase in the number of students of color being sent out of school. There are various causes of racial inequality in discipline implementation in many public schools this include: (Darnell, James and Downey, 1998)

Cultural Insensitivity and Misunderstanding: This has been said to be the major factor leading to crisis in discipline systems both in students and the teaching member and in which it has been predicted that this case will lead to the distinction racial and ethnic groups among students. Due to the growing urban population in cities, many suburban schools are growing thus increasing the racial and language differences. Contrary, the numbers of teachers decrease due to color and social differences in which we find many school administrators employing teachers depending on the number of the color students. This has probably led to a cultural variance through which a number of teachers lack knowledge with the cultural values, and belief systems of the students. Therefore, due to lack of the teachers’ familiarity with the students’ cultural perspectives, the teacher is not able to understand the behavior of a particular student.

Socio-Economic Factors: This is normally experienced in many schools creating differences among the members in the learning institution. For example, a situation where we find a teacher living in a middle social class that has a uniform way of living and a lower income student is living in an economically troubled society. This difference between the teacher and the student is said to complicate the relationship between the two groups.
Students Defiance: This is the resistance of a student over their teacher’s authorities. This kind of student’s behavior is normally characterized by not following the teacher’s directions and also talking back. This has been said to usually come up as a result of racism thus creating a negative impact teaching and learning. This resistance is another factor that is claimed to be an effect of the inequity cases in schools under which students react in a particular ways such as breaking of school rules, disrupting class sessions and their denial in learning. Many researchers conclude that this resistant is a factor leading to the existing discipline crisis. These behaviors results in the irritation and annoyance of the teacher who sometimes lack skills of resolving his students’ resistance especially where there is a racial contribution to the situation. (Darnell, James and Downey, 1998)

Lack of Academic and Social Support: This is normally linked with the case of the students resistance whereby research finds that most students claim to be disruptive because they do not receive adequate support in doing their school assignments or in developing skills in their self management which leads to a low academic competence whereby most students are held back leading to lower achievement.

It is said that racial discrimination in schools has a diversified effects on the students which normally differ with the presence of many factors including those of self attitudes and the cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. These factors target the performance of the students whereby a negative impact is brought, i.e. when a school administration fails to address the needs of its students. This may be done when the school administers are formulating their curriculum that include the exclusion of minority cultures and languages which proves to lack relevance to the students. This in turn make students to loose interest whereby they fail to attend school and some of them dropping out of schools due to the boredom caused by the school curricula. Such a cause may also lead to a low literacy rate among the members of the society. (Kohn, 2002)

Employment: The other effect of discrimination is the diminishing in employment prosperities of the children due to low educational levels. There exists a high unemployment rates since most of the children were discouraged from attending school due to racial discrimination. For this case they did not acquire enough knowledge and skills that would be required to be applied in a working environment rather than at school, thus creating a sub-class of society members thus increasing the discrimination factors in the community.

Acceptance of Racial Discrimination: Through this, the children are forced to learn that discrimination is part of their ways of life in the community meaning they accept it. This normally makes make the children to grow up in a manner of separating themselves from others thus having a negative effect on the child’s integration with others in the community.

Lack of Respect: Racial discrimination can also lead to the loss of the societies’ cultures and language. This can also lead to lack of interest of the children in maintaining instructions of a particular language and culture through which many children have the inability of communicating effectively in the particular traditional language due to an incomplete grasp of the official language learnt at school.
Psychological Insinuation: Racial discrimination is said to be having psychological implication on various children in the society since the children are forced to participate in a particular culture at school. This is so because; it forces them to alter to their home cultures. Through this, the students face a variety of conflicts giving rise to a psychological and identity problem. (Kohn, 2002)

Alienation: This normally occurs in children due to the assimilation policies that are imposed in schools which are normally meant to break the conversion of culture and language from an older generation to a younger generation. This leads to the alienating of the native children from their society older to younger stimulating the identity crisis within their societies. This alienation can lead social isolation that might also lead to depression through stress anger and fatigue which normally happen to detract the student from performing in schools.

This case of discrimination has been shown to have taken a large proportion of the minority members of the society who are classified as underclass, though there are conditions that have been developed to reduce this issue of race, one of it is the positive action developed by schools and other institutions in which we find various people who are engaged in fighting for equality and just in the society, this has led to the fading of the demand for socialism, this has brought the socio-economic class differences to a lower level therefore the need for an economic equality has resulted into more demands of justice opposing the equality in terms of race and sex including the socio-economic classes.

There is a risen need for multi-culturalism that is meant to practically reduce the need for common school work for the minority students thus providing support for the teachers to ensure that academic difficulties are dealt with in this case, we see that teachers are struggling to help the students who are affected by the racial discrimination who end up with a lower performance, the teachers argue that there exist no racial discrimination on the ground of socio-economic factors but they say that the performance of a student is normally affected by the perception of the students about the particular topics covered in class whereby they have created changes in the planning of courses whereby the teacher is forced to have many choices of materials to use in motivating these students. We also see that most teachers spend time on discussions in class activities that normally imposes emotion, social and moral parts of education. This is normally an effective method of motivating students to act on difficult topics in their studies. Under this the students are always encouraged to read more books to gain more knowledge for themselves in various aspects of their studies.

It is said that governments have also brought up a race equality policy, which is used describe how school administrators plan to fight these racial discrimination which will afterwards promote equality in many schools and also encourage good race relations in school and in class attendance . This policy is meant to provide various strategies to be used. It normally covers important policies, thus stating how the school meets its administration policies covering the racial equality with an aim of eliminating this issue from the schools

This policy is normally a written document that carries the responsibilities and obligations that should be linked to the school activities. Therefore for a schools’ policy to be effective, it should be kept as part of the development plan of the school, it should also show the practical aspects on the details of how the school will implement the policy. It also defines clearly the duties and obligations so that the teachers and the students including the parents are brought to an awareness of what is expected of them. The schools are therefore given the responsibility to prepare the students who will meet, live and work with people of different culture and social backgrounds.

Therefore they should ensure that the culture and philosophy of the school are compatible not putting in mind the backgrounds of its members of the school. This we enable an equal treatment of each other with respect under this the students are provided with an opportunity to express themselves universally. The schools should be aware that permission of a particular group through which those members of the society who do not qualify makes them frustrated, resentment, loss of self-esteem, and racial hostility.

The racial discrimination issue has played a role bringing discrepancies in schools between the socio-economic classes in education though there have major efforts in the fighting of this issue there is still some cases reported in various schools.

Recommendations and Conclusion

In most cases, lack of motivation leads to, absenteeism, poor performance, lack of involvement in activities, and dropout cases in high schools. Most students are said to be undergoing various challenges while at school. Some of these problems may include: fear of failure, lack of academic success, social pressures, lack of confidence in themselves, misplacement of papers and books, frequent absenteeism, lack of motivation and quietness while in school due to racial discrimination. Teachers are therefore asked to focus on the students’ problems culturally, linguistically and socially and at the same time, they should encourage the students to choose subjects that are of interest to them. These students should also be allowed choose a unit of their study whereby the teacher can relate the student’s preferences of the subjects by asking them questions on the subjects they like and those they dislike but not basing on the racial factors. In this case, the high school teachers who are serious and are engaged in educating this category of students in public schools must apply the teaching techniques they have acquired in order to motivate these students to achieve their goals in school. From this case, each child should be involved in every meaningful learning while at school.

Motivation can be done either intrinsically whereby the relationship between learning and the interest of the student is involved. Under this case the teacher should be able to bring together the students learning with their non-learning interest such as socializing, watching movies, sports, listening to music, under this kind of motivation a student may find some parts of his learning being more interesting , thus changing the students negative attitudes towards learning. Where as, the extrinsically kind of motivation involves, learning focusing on punishments and rewarding. Although this method may worsen the students negative attitudes, the teachers is urged to allow the student to have the freedom of choice and making decisions instead of punishing them. (Kohn, 2002)

The first step that a teacher is recommended to take is to know what the students like or dislike about the school activities and what they would recommend the school to do to enable them have an environment that makes them to learn better. The teacher is encouraged to be caring and be able to give attention and assistance to each and every student in his class. This is said to be normally the major factor leading to improvement in the achievement of the students’ school goals. The teacher should also show the students how the courses they are learning are applied outside the school environment thus making it more relevant to their future. Also the teacher should encourage the students to acquire more experiences on what they are learning so that they may be able to apply the experienced skills personally in their working areas. School as a whole are advised to establish a learning format that can enable them set goals for each student. This format can enable each student to get rewards for his or her great efforts and achievements. This would in turn make the students to be motivated whereby learning in a school is made to be a competition with few rewards available to the best performing students through which recognition of individual’s excellence is one way of motivating the other students to work harder so that they can also be rewarded accordingly.

Although many school students are said to be motivated with their teachers explanation on what is expected of them, how much efforts they should add and how they are going to be rewarded for their better performances. Parents are also said to be the best ingredient in motivating their children. The parents should participate in promoting active learning in their school children by enabling their children to set up their short-term goals that will enable them create confidence and have a commitment to school. The parents can also make their children understand the skills and knowledge required to get a better job after schooling. This will enable the children need to keep learning after school which is normally used to create a foundation for their children’s future life.

The parents are encouraged to talk to their children openly so as to find out the real cause of their lack of interest in the school performance. They should also be encouraged to spend most of their times at the school where their children attend so that they can be able to know what activities are carried out in the school. They should take their role as parents to encourage their children to be involved in study groups for informal study sessions. This may be done through church groups or school organizations. This normally encourages the child to grow and become independent rather than to be dependent on his parents carrying the skills they have acquired to the work places. Also the parent should encourage their children to engage in some volunteering work whereby the community is used as a classroom, thereby enabling the student to know how learning is to be applied in the real world apart from applying it on the class works only; this helps the student to decide on what to do in future.


  • Darnell, A., James, W. and Downey, D. B. (1998): Assessing the Oppositional Culture
  • Explanation for Racial/Ethnic Differences in School Performance: – American Sociological Review 63: 536-553.
  • Entwisle, A. and Horsey, C. (1997): From First Grade Forward: – Early Foundations of
  • High School Dropout Sociology of Education
  • Kohn, A. (2002): Punished by Rewards:-The Trouble with Gold Stars. Incentive Plan,
  • A’s, Praise, & Other Bribes:-Boston. Houghton Mifflin
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