Expecting Trouble From Black Males Starts in Pre-K

Black and white preschool teachers alike spend more time watching black boys
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2016 3:04 PM CDT
Expecting Trouble From Black Males Starts in Pre-K
A little boy in pre-Kindergarten class.   (Getty)

Are black children in preschool suspended more than three times as often as their white counterparts because they act out that much more, or because their teachers are expecting and watching for behavior problems from them more? A new study out of Yale suggests that there is an "implicit bias" among both black and white preschool teachers against boys in general and black boys especially, reports NPR. "If you look for something in one place, that's the only place you can typically find it," says lead researcher Walter Gilliam, citing the famous story of a person hunting for car keys under a street light instead of where he dropped them because that's what he can see.

The Yale team used eye-scan tech to capture the gazes of 135 pre-K teachers as they watched a video of four children—a black girl, a black boy, a white girl, and a white boy. They asked the teachers to look for challenging behaviors, but the kids were all actors, reports the Washington Post, and the footage showed no challenging behaviors. Turns out the teachers all looked at the black kids more, and the boy especially, and when asked which kid needed the most attention, 42% said the black boy, 34% said the white boy, 13% said the white girl, and 10% said the black girl. "Implicit bias is like the wind: You can’t see it, but you can sure see its effects," Gilliam says. (See the shocking reason this black 3rd grader had to leave his charter school.)

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