Exploring Educators' Commitment to Racial Equity: A Qualitative Study of Critical Incidents
MetadataShow full item record
African American, Latinx, and Native American students continue to be disciplined in U.S. schools at rates 2 to 3 times higher than White students. In response, schools are seeking out approaches to reduce racial disciplinary disparities. Yet, it is not clear what influences educators’ active commitment to address racial equity in school discipline practice. This study used the Critical Incident Technique to explore the phenomenon of commitment to racial equity. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 educators who self-reported that they were initially non-committal or reluctant to address racial equity but became more committed over time. The interviews produced 210 critical incidents and the formation of 20 categories to describe what helped and hindered educators’ personal commitment and the observed commitment of others to racial equity in school discipline practice. Findings indicated Disaggregating School Data by Race and Ethnicity (self, other), Learning About Racial Discrimination in Society (self), and Sharing Equity-Focused Strategies (others) were categories reported to help educators’ commitment to racial equity. Avoiding Discussing Race (self) and Lowering Expectations and Stereotyping (others) were found to hinder educators’ commitment to racial equity. Participants’ responses also suggested active commitment to racial equity may require effort and exposure to multiple discriminatory or prejudicial events. Commitment formation was also found to be influenced by non-school experiences (i.e., events or incidents that occur outside of a school campus). Contributions of the study are discussed in relation to theory, school practices, and approaches to teacher professional development.