“You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Look At: Acknowledging Race in Addressing Racial Discipline Disparities,” by Prudence Carter, Russell Skiba, Mariella Arredondo, and Mica Pollock, is the fifth in a series of briefing papers published by the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative. Based at Indiana University and supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Foundation, the Discipline Disparities project is a group of 26 nationally known researchers, educators, advocates, and policy analysts working together to address the problem of disciplinary disparities.
“You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Look At” focuses on “how our nation’s history has left us with ideas about ‘race’ that still prompt exclusionary and disparate disciplinary practices and segregated, boundaried experiences that make it difficult to confront racial issues, even as those issues continue to play out in our everyday interactions.” Starting with a bracing, historically grounded analysis of why it’s difficult to face issues of race, the paper moves onto recommendations of ways to bring race into conversations about disciplinary and other educational disparities. This research-based section includes suggestions to identify and acknowledge the extent of disparities through examining data, engaging in conversations about race, including students in those discussions, and creating race-conscious interventions and evaluations.
These recommendations demand commitment, awareness, and follow-through, and are a critical part of eliminating disciplinary disparities and other inequities. School leaders and educators who mean to create lasting change will be well-guided by this brief.