Prosecutors in Georgia wanted to send a clear message that cheating children is not tolerated. After the exposure of the Atlanta Cheating Scandal, Black Atlanta educators were arrested and jailed for cheating Black children on a standardized test.
The sad reality is, children of color have been cheated out of a fair and equitable education well before Brown v. Board of Education.
The fact of the matter is, we’re still cheating Black boys out of a quality education in Georgia schools.
There are many ways in which Georgia school districts are cheating Black boys. To start, attendance and discipline policies in Gwinnett County are helping put a disproportionate number of Black boys out of schools. One parent and stakeholder took to Twitter highlighting the disappropriate numbers of Black boys being put out of schools as opposed to graduating from them in Gwinnett.
A Gwinnett county parent recently called out the district on disproportionate rates of Black and Brown children being put out of schools for attendance and uniform policies. In the forum she stated, “We’re trying to ensure our children succeed by any means necessary but poor leadership and policies in Gwinnett are determined to push them out by any means necessary. This is the sad world we live in!”
Many Black male students feel targeted in school. The punishments are often more severe for children of color. Black boys are impacted by bias in consequences in much higher numbers which impacts their attendance and achievement.
Even my Black male students feel this way. In each school, there are a set of values that students must follow. Students understand that if they fail to do so, they have to face the consequences. But let’s face it, we are talking about boys…now and then they are going to behave as children. Haven’t we all at some point in our lives behaved as children do?
But from my student’s perspective, Black boys feel like these consequences are escalated for Black boys. He told me:
“Adults seem to apply the intensity of the consequences based on who the student are. In many of my peers cases, the consequences for Black boys are always more severe.”
I agree with my students. I do believe that consequences should be given based off of the action. However, that is not the case. I have witnessed as a teacher, consequences given more harshly to Black boys. My white male students get much more grace and understanding.
When it involves Black boys, they are always given the most extreme punishments. And once they’ve have experienced a consequence, Black boys are treated differently. Often times because Black boys are in trouble at school, teachers and administrators feel like they can say and do things to Black boys and it doesn’t matter.
Teachers and administrators are human too. Oftentimes adult frustrations from not understanding Black boys is taken out on them. As one of my students remarked:
“We get penalized for just being who we are sometimes in class. If you say too much you’re being disrespectful. If you don’t say anything you’re dumb!”
A lot of Black boys in special education feel this way. We should not discount the experiences of Black boys. Doing so is cheating them out of meeting academic success.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.