In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a conscious effort by school districts to reduce classroom prejudice and discrimination. To address this issue, they encouraged teachers and support staff to use the color-blindness approach. This required school staff to intentional disregard their students’ ethnicity and culture characteristics in order not to discriminate. Districts believe that color-blindness would eliminate all bias-like practices from the classroom.
But after decades of implementing this approach, discriminate still manifested in the classroom. According to a 2004 study by Jennifer Richeson, teachers, who practiced the color-blindness, stereotype students. These teachers repeatedly assumed certain ethnic groups (e.g., Asians) and gender groups (e.g., males) were better suited for science and math course work compared to other cultural groups of students (e.g., Latinos and African Americas). Many of them also presumed that children with similar ethnic backgrounds, all had the same academic capabilities.
Typecasting kids to a particular stereotype, subsequently, affected how these teachers disciplined their students in the classroom. Adolescents that were prejudged as ‘troublemakers’ were more likely to receive harsher punishments for minor classroom offensives compared to children that were considered ‘the good kids.’
The color-blindness mindset is now known as a flawed method. Because it prevents all students from receiving and accessing an equitable education. And, it encourages individuals to act on their perceived racial bias. Given the diverse makeup of American public schools, this is no longer tolerated. Nowadays, educators do judge their students on their academic performance rather than relying on the their assumptions. It has taken a long time to get rid of this ideology in our public schools. Let’s not bring it back.