By Dave Dahl
SPRINGFIELD – Race in the workplace. A new University of Illinois study suggests there’s room for improvement.
Jennifer Nelson, an assistant professor in the University of Illinois’ College of Education, says she uncovered many findings, including Blacks being hired to teach, say, senior trigonometry, and being immediately assigned to remedial courses.
At a majority Black school, “a white teacher’s white colleague said, kind of an offhand comment, our students behave like this because of their race,” Nelson said. “The white colleague hearing this would be shocked and surprised and have anxiety about seeing up close racially biased, prejudiced, and even racist attitudes.” Nelson said things would not improve as long as the offended teacher stayed quiet, which she did.
In another example, in 2008, a Black teacher assumed a white next-door neighbor was racist because his classroom – in her opinion – displayed John McCain banners more prominently than Barack Obama banners. The Black teacher cut off all contact, thus having no relationship with the white teacher.
And Nelson says research consistently shows that students of color achieve more academically, have fewer disciplinary problems, and have a better chance of getting into gifted programs when they have a teacher who “looks like them.”
Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected].