Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman wants all school staff in the state to undergo implicit bias training as part of a package of proposals to pacify Black Lives Matter protestors.
“As we have seen over the past week and a half, our society is crying out for change, and as I look into the crowds of people, I notice often it is our young people leading the way, Coleman said at Governor Andy Beshear’s daily briefing on Monday. “Let me be clear, public education was made to meet this moment.”
Coleman, a former school administrator, made three formal proposals at the state Board of Education meeting last week: to mandate implicit bias training for all Kentucky school staff, to push schools to recruit minority teachers, and to appoint a non-voting student member to the board, the Owensboro Times reports.
“The issue of bias is all of us harbor is something we must confront,” Coleman said in a prepared statement. “Especially if bias is hindering a child’s education.”
The lieutenant governor noted Monday that the state board recently added a non-voting teacher member, and doing the same for students would ensure “every group has a seat at the table as we lead Kentucky into the future,” according to the news site.
Coleman cited statistics from the National Bureau of Economic Research that shows black students do better on end-of-year tests if they have a black teacher.
Black students who have one black teacher by third grade are 13% more likely to go to college, while black students who have two are 32% more likely, according to Coleman’s statement.
“For many kids, the first leader they have outside of their home is their teacher. Kentucky’s kids of color deserve to see themselves reflected in their community leaders,” Coleman said. “All of our children are better prepared for their future when exposed to a diverse community of leaders and teachers.”
Kentucky is only the latest state to propose changes in the wake of nationwide protests and race riots following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police.
In California, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a plan last week to train all of the state’s educators about implicit bias.
“We’re rolling out a campaign of sorts. A campaign to talk about implicit bias,” Thurmond said in a Facebook live video quoted by KTVU. “I’m banking on our ability to start the conversation about using education as a way to help building healing and understanding to promote tolerance.”
California State University East Bay educational leadership professor G.T. Reyes told the news site “implicit bias” is all about how society is structured to benefit white people, to the detriment of black and brown people.
“Implicit bias is based on the idea that we’re not aware of whiteness as a norm,” Reyes said. “That we, as people, have been so acclimatized to our society that the construct of whiteness is how to be, how to become, how to think, how to speak, what to do.”
Reyes, a former Oakland principal, contends the intent of implicit bias training is to help teachers understand that they’re unconsciously reinforcing institutional racism.
“That’s the nature of implicit bias,” he said. “I don’t know why I’m targeting you, I know that there are other kids doing the exact same thing, but I’m targeting that black boy right there in that corner who is doing something similar to these group of students there who might not be students of color.”
The movement toward implicit bias training for teachers follows years of similar white privilege teacher training sessions that have sparked controversy in communities across the country, including districts in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and others. The training sessions, many conducted by the Pacific Educational Group, are based on the premise that America is hopelessly stacked against minorities, who struggle to excel in schools because of their cultural differences and racist teachers. In many cases, the taxpayer-sponsored training sessions cost districts hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.