Across describe feelings of disengagement from school and reduced

Across the US and in Texas, there are racial disparities in
office referrals for disciplinary attention in K-12 schools, especially among
African American and Hispanic students (Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, &
Bachman, 2008).  A rising amount of
evidence has revealed discriminatory trends in the ways school districts issue
out discipline. African American and Hispanic students are much more likely to
be disciplined at greater rates of in- and out-of-school discipline then
caucsian students. These minority students are no more likely to misbehave than
other students from the same social and economic environments. Many disadvantaged
minority students grow up in troubled communities, broken homes and low income
statuses, leaving them less equipped to conform to behavioral norms in school. Reseach
shows that home
environment does carry over into the school environment,” “But
middle-class and upper-class black students are also being disciplined more
often than their white peers. Skin color in itself is a part of this
function.” While such socioeconomic factors contribute to the
disproportionate discipline rates, researchers say that poverty alone cannot
explain the disparities. “There simply isn’t any support for the notion
that, given the same set of circumstances, African American and Hispanic students
tend to act out to a greater degree than other kids,” said Russell Skiba,
a professor of educational psychology at Indiana University and who is widely
regarded as the nation’s foremost authority on school discipline and race. The
data indicates that minority students are punished more severely for the same
offense. When these students are labeled as troublemakers, they are more than
twice as likely to be disciplined more harshly and more frequently than their caucsian
counterparts. Many of these  students who
experience being disciplined for behaviors describe feelings of disengagement
from school and reduced trust for the educational process (Yeager, Hooper,
Purdie-Vaughns, & Cohen, 2017). Furthermore, multiple disciplinary actions
lead to suspensions, expulsions, and increased class time missed, which
contributes to the growing achievement gap between African American, Hispanic,
and White students (Monroe, 2006) as well as an increased likelihood to drop
out of school, engage in illegal behaviors, and end up in prison, a trend
commonly referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline (Townsend, 2000;
Okunofua, Walton, & Eberhardt, 2016).

The school-to-prison pipeline is an widespread epicdemic
that is plaguing our school districts across the nation. Many minority students
are expelled, suspended, and even arrested for minor offenses. Statistics suggest
that these practices excessively target students of color and those with a background
of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities (Smiley 2011). Minority students
who are forced out of their school for disruptive behaviors are usually sent back
to the source of their trouble and misery. These students are released back to
their negative influenced neighborhoods and environments. They become hardened,
disorganized, resentful and stigmatized. Many of tthese students tend to fall
behind in their work and eventually decide to drop out of school.  Some of these drop-outs commit small crimes in
their communities to survive. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause for
the school-to-prison pipeline, but many researchers claim it to derive from the
zero tolerance practices of the 1990’s. These policies were a response to
school shootings and general fears about crime. In 1994, the federal government
passed the Gun-Free Schools Act, which requires schools to mandatorily expel
any student who brings a gun or deadly weapon on campus.. Around the same time,
the “broken windows” theory of law enforcement became popular. The premise behind
this theory was that cracking down on minor violations early will prevent serious
crimes later. School districts all across the nation started enacting
disciplinary policies that went further than what  federal law had presribed. These disciplinary procedures
varied from school to school, but they frequently required suspending or
expelling students for a wide range of conduct. Other scholors blame district administrators
and educators, accusing them of pushing out minority students who score lower
on state standardized tests in order to improve the school’s overall individual
accountability ratings and image. The Texas Education Agency accountability
rating system in is based on results of standardized test scores, dropout
rates, and high school completion rates. These accountability ratings can
change from year to year because they are closely realted to student
performance. Some even blame financial deficits for the school-to-prison
problem. America spends over $550 billion a year on public elementary and
secondary education in the United States. On average, school districts spend about
$10,658 for each individual student, although per pupil expenditures vary
greatly among states, school districts and individual schools (Biddle & Berlier, 2002). All
three levels of government contribute to education funding. State and local
governments normally provide about 44% each of all elementary and secondary
education funding. The federal government contributes about 12% of all direct
expenditures. The reasons to the problems seemed to be many, but the solutions
are not as plentiful.

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Theoretical Framework

This study seeks to examine bias from the teachers’
perspective, and we will do so by using a critical justice theoretical
framework. Theoretical frameworks help to inspect the nature of perspectives
(Strayhorn, 2013). A critical justice social perspective is one that recognizes
the negative social stratification and segregation of people based on
characteristics such as race, gender, socio-economic status, and other factors
(Sensoy & DiAngelo, 2017).  Critical
social justice ideology identifies a demographic who would seek power and
control over minority populations, either deliberately or inadvertently, as
they may be unaware of their own privileges and biases, including the erroneous
belief that everyone in America has the same opportunity to get ahead (Sensoy
& DiAngelo, 2017). 

            Our study is intent upon identifying
the existence of bias and denial of bias as a highlight of unconscious discriminatory
actions.  To do so, this study will
utilize a mixed methods paradigm, which is when both quantitative and
qualitative data collection and analytical 
procedures are used.  Quantitative
data looks at ordinal numbers, intervals, and ratios, while qualitative data
draws a more subjective interpretation of written text or transcribed audio
such as interviews (Creswell & Clark, 2011).  Utilizing a mixed methodological paradigm
rests on the belief that combining quantitative and qualitative data and analysis
is more useful for social research than each system would be on its own.  In our research, we will look qualitatively
at survey results in varying demographical conditions and then analyze the
results statistically to compare frequency of occurrence and attempt to find
correlation. Our research design is defined as non-experimental, a type of
study where the researcher cannot control, manipulate, or alter the predictor
variable or subjects (Johnson, 2001).


limitations are found in this research.

The most significant was the lack of interview feedback. Orginally we sent out
over 120 email request for our research surveies. After some time had passed
without any response, we sent another wave of emails. We gained access to a
school district right before the Thanksgiving break. The district immediately responded
back to the survey on Monday, November 27, 2017.  







SERA Reflection

            As a group, we chose our research
topic based on our current and past experiences in our careers. , with the hope
to bring some attention to the perception of biases among teachers.. Thus, our passion for this research was based on the fact that previous research
did not describe anything about precieved biases among teachers.  Although we encountered limitations and
difficulties, we have found the process of completing this research to be a learning
experience that we would never forget.