Occam's Butterknife: Black Pre-K Teachers Found Guilty of Racist Implicit Bias
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September 28, 2016, 02:47 PM
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One part of Hillary’s campaign is to promise to wage war on the Gladwellian concept of racist implicit bias. From the transcript of Monday’s debate:
HOLT: Secretary Clinton, last week, you said we’ve got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people?

CLINTON: Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. And therefore, I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, you know, why am I feeling this way?

But when it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers.

The Atlantic today writes up a new Yale study tracking the mass delusion that is implicit bias back to its sinister root: preschool teachers. In fact, hallucinatory implicit bias so afflicts American culture that black preschool teachers are even more implicitly biased against black boys than are white preschool teachers.
Even Black Preschool Teachers Are Biased

A new study shows that African American early educators hold students of the same race to a higher discipline standard.


The trend is a familiar one, documented across grade levels: Black students are disciplined more harshly than their white classmates. They’re about four times as likely to be suspended and almost twice as likely to be expelled. The pattern also extends to the youngest black learners. Federal education data released in June revealed black preschoolers were 3.6 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions. Yet even with this recurring outcome, one aspect remained largely unknown: What was the major contributing factor in the highly disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for black pre-k children?

A new study from the Yale Child Study Center, a leader in early-childhood research, set out to address this perennial question and answer why black children make up an overwhelming share of the youngsters pushed out of preschool. Multiple studies show that implicit bias—harboring unconscious stereotypes that shape educators’ behaviors and decisions—influences teacher expectations and gifted-and-talented placements for older schoolchildren. The link was missing, however, in early-childhood settings.

In what’s believed to be a first-of-its-kind analysis, Walter Gilliam, a Yale professor and noted expert in preschool discipline, discovered both black and white early-childhood educators showed signs of implicit bias in administering discipline, seemingly rooted in different, though equally harmful, race-based judgements. “Implicit biases do not begin with black men and police,” Gilliam said. “They begin with young black boys and their preschool teachers, if not earlier.”

Using a sophisticated eye-tracking system, a sensor technology that follows and records the movement of a person’s gaze, Gilliam and the research team invited pre-k teachers to watch a dozen short video clips of preschoolers in typical classroom situations. Participants were asked how quickly and accurately they could detect challenging behaviors in the children—a black boy, black girl, white boy, and white girl—yet none of the videos contained misbehavior, and the children in the videos were all actors. What researchers found was that the preschool staff—both black and white teachers—more closely observed black youngsters, and especially black boys, when challenging behaviors were expected, “suggesting that preschool teachers may hold different expectations based on the race of the child,” said Gilliam. …

Of note, both black and white preschool educators—22 percent of the participants identified as black, 67 percent as white—showed strong evidence of implicit biases. However, the nature of the biases differed based on the race of the teacher. White teachers appeared to have lower expectations of black children, finding them as a group more prone to misbehavior, “so a vignette about a black child with challenging behaviors [was] not appraised as … unusual, severe, or out of the ordinary.”

Conversely, black teachers seemed to hold black preschoolers to a higher behavioral standard; pay notably more attention to the behaviors of black boys; and recommend harsher, more exclusionary discipline. Prior research suggests that teachers of all races tend to over-punish black students. Gilliam also points to research on black parents and their “need to prepare [black] children for, or protect them from, a harsh world” to help explain this tendency. “It seems possible that the black preschool teachers may be operating under similar beliefs … that black children require harsh assessment and discipline.” …

“What [the Yale study] points to is that teachers are already socialized, regardless of their racial background, about racial politics in ways that they don’t often understand, but that may come out in their observation of children, and particularly black males.”

… “Early educators are not immune to implicit biases. No one is,” said Gilliam, the lead researcher. But by recognizing the harm these prejudices have on children they serve, preschool teachers “represent perhaps our nation’s best frontline defense against the negative impacts of implicit biases.”

This story is part of our Next America: Early Childhood project, which is supported by a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation.

[Comment at Unz.com]