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Teachers: Reaching Out to Parents Ain't Rocket Science

The key to understanding a student's culture is to get to know their parents and their community, educators say. That was the consensus in an #ewedchat I moderated Wednesday night with guest Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center.

The chat centered on how schools could better support students of color, a demographic that faces trying circumstances in many ways in schools. As a The New York Times story reported Wednesday, for example, African-American girls are far more likely than white girls to receive harsh disciplinary punishment:

Data from the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education show that from 2011 to 2012, black girls in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide were suspended at a rate of 12 percent, compared with a rate of just 2 percent for white girls, and more than girls of any other race or ethnicity.

(See my colleague's Evie Blad excellent continuous coverage for more information on race and school discipline.)

The chat brought out reflection on what racial biases teachers bring into the classroom, and how they can address them. Of particular note, though, is that participants seemed in agreement that fighting bias requires better community outreach on the part of educators. As one participant noted, reaching out to parents "ain't rocket science."

Here's a fuller recap of Wednesday night's chat. As a reminder, #ewedchat happens twice monthly; the next one will be this coming Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. ET, focusing on classroom technology.


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