Teachers Share How Often Their Schools Talk About Race

From constantly to never.

Given recent events, many of us are trying to take a hard and humble look at racism. We’re reading books and watching videos as we seek to fill in gaps in understanding and deepen empathy. Many states attempt to address inequity between students by strengthening teacher preparation and rewarding the choice to work in lower-performing schools. And while most states have some requirement related to diversity preparation, those standards, definitions, and applications vary significantly. At WeAreTeachers, we were curious about how school districts have formally addressed this topic over the years, so we consulted our Facebook group to answer the question: “When was the last time you had PD related to equity or race?” The answers about race and equity in teacher PD varied a lot.

Recently and frequently

Some of you have received this kind of training within the past few months—and some, in spite of COVID-related limitations, are receiving it now. Among those who attended race and equity training recently, this kind of PD also tends to be recurrent.

“During this past school year……Race and equity specific as well as trauma-related work.” —Theresa

“The beginning of the school year, and then again starting in May.” —Melisa

“Actually my district is offering a free 4-week course right now on culturally responsive teaching and learning. It was very good and totally relevant.” —Kim

“Last week. Our state is requiring 45 credit hours added to our certification that had to be diversity and ELL.” —Crystal

“We do this as a regular part of our PD at my school. We have a diversity and equity statement as part of our mission and work hard to make sure that we are modeling it in our school culture.” —Kathy

A while back

Some of you remember PD presentations on equity and race—but it has been a while. 

“The last time one was offered was in my credential program almost 4 years ago.” —Karissa

“2015.” —Rachel

“I guess like 15 years ago when our principal at the time took us to the museum of tolerance. I guess that’s the closest thing.” —Sarah

“Fourteen years ago, in Bryan, Texas.” —Tracey

Never. Like, ever.

We were surprised to hear that for many, this topic has never been addressed. 

“Never. How sad is that?” —Heather

“Never, which is really unacceptable!” —Andrea

“Never. But hey, my state has the confederate flag as part of the state flag, so it’s hard to be surprised.” —Mandy

“Ummmm… about never years ago.” —Marie

Self-initiated

Some of those who aren’t offered race-related PD take matters into their own hands. 

“When I went out and found it for myself!” —Cheryl

“I’ve taken a course about systemic racism in education but I sought it out, it was never provided by a school.” —Samantha

“I’ve done my own, but the closest thing is poverty training or gang training, which is really sad.” —Hannah

Equity… but not race

There were some teachers who recalled training on some aspect of equity but not on race in particular. 

“We have had a ton on equity, but none that specifically mention race. I am hoping we will soon, especially because we just got sued by the ACLU… I hope that was a wake up call for them!” —Liz

“Equity ALL THE TIME but only for learning/behavior disabilities/challenges…. Race??? Never had a single one.” —Kelli

“We completed a few on LGBTQ+ and Equity, but not really race.” —Mary 

Room for improvement

We weren’t surprised that some of you had ideas for improving race and equity in teacher PD. Who knows better than educators how make learning more effective?

“We had one at the beginning of the school year and one mid-way through the year. But did not really keep the conversations going throughout the year. We’re working to change this at our school.” —Brooke

“It’s come up every year, but there’s never enough time to go into any depth.” —Michael 

“We need vigorous month by month examination of our curriculum to look for content that excludes and for content that perpetuates systemic racism nationwide.” —Ann

What does race and equity PD look like at your school? Share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out these anti-racism videos for school staff.

Teachers Share How Often Their Schools Talk About Race

Posted by Joanna Breault

Joanna is an editor at WeAreTeachers. She has five kids, homeschooled them for a decade, and (out of an abundance of gratitude) loves working on resources for teachers. She also has a soft spot for long books, strong tea, and public radio.

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