ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Superintendent Dr. David Young addressed teachers in a convocation Wednesday in which he asked them to be aware of personal racial biases that could impact their teaching.
In a media briefing Wednesday, Dr. Young confirmed he encouraged educators to be the first step in correcting racism and encouraging inclusion on campuses. This comes after months of national racial unrest, particularly sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers back in May.
“No student or employee should come across a process or experience that makes them feel unsafe at school,” said Dr. Young.
Dr. Young said implicit racism, such as paying more attention to certain types of students than others, is an issue that can be solved by reflecting on personal biases a teacher might have.
“This is a conversation that we have got to engage in. It’s the things that people do that they don’t necessarily mean to do – they don’t know that they do,” said Dr. Young.
Ethics professor at Abilene Christian University Dr. Myles Werntz says encounters with implicit bias can impact how a student learns the rest of their educational career.
“If you continually treat a student like they’re suspect – that student never encounters the classroom as a place to make mistakes and grow,” said Dr. Werntz in a Zoom interview Wednesday afternoon.
Dr. Young’s request for inclusion comes after months of discussion around renaming four Abilene Independent School District (AISD) campuses named after Confederate leaders.
While the AISD school board approved criteria Monday for naming or renaming schools which would be the first step in that process, Dr. Young says the district is still hearing input from those on both sides of the issue before any action is taken.
“It starts with listening, it starts with reflecting and more listening, then thinking about, ‘How do we go forward in the best way,'” said Dr. Young.
The superintendent says the school board is likely to continue discussion on renaming the schools at its September meeting.
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