Bias incidents are on the rise. In 2018, the state of New Jersey recorded 569 bias incidents in K-20 school systems - the highest number since 2011. Bias makes an educational environment impossible to navigate for the victims and teaches others that hate is ok. The idea that bias incidents have become commonplace behavior in the classroom and at school events is a frightening proposition for teachers and school administrators. Like so many other schools, Lincoln High School in San Diego was the site of a racial incident at a football game on September 13. There's no question that a large event provides even more opportunity for situations like this to escalate and in this digital age, the world is told in real-time. Administrators must do their due diligence to investigate reported bias incidents and follow protocol to respond to the evidence, but what about the everyday microaggressions that haunt the experience of underrepresented students? Educational institutions must create comprehensive plans to educate all community members about what it means to be inclusive. Cultural competency and behavioral expectations that emphasize empathy is critical to real progress. A reactionary approach will only serve as a time sucker. This doesn't mean that bias incidents shouldn't be handled. What it does mean is that school officials must infuse multiculturalism into every facet of the school experience: training, orientation, publications, decorations, curriculum, traditions, etc. Bias prevention isn't about one training or one cultural program. It's about a commitment to embracing and including ALL - ALL OF THE TIME.
When educators talk to us about what they should do, we offer a Bias Prevention RX. Training for staff.
Training for students.
An Equity Lens for all facets of the educational environment.
We use our Equity Rubric as a tool to help institutions learn more about their climate and their approach to inclusion.
The most important advice:
Don't wait until a bias incident happens to begin working on inclusion. DO IT NOW!!