STUDY: Poor Minority Students Who Believe In Discrimination Behave Better

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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A study reported Thursday found poor minority students who believe in discrimination behave better as school progresses than those who think America is fair.

The results of the study, authored by two professors and a graduate student, mirror the approach by many teachers in the United States, who incorporate concepts like oppression, racism, and classism into primary and secondary school education, according to The Atlantic.

“System justification [believing the American system is fair] was associated with higher self-esteem, less delinquent behavior, and better classroom behavior in sixth grade but worse trajectories of these outcomes from sixth to eighth grade,” said the study.

New York University professor Erin B. Godfrey, Arizona State University professor Carlos E. Santos, and New York University graduate student Esther Burson conducted the June study, which asserts that “system-justifying beliefs undermine the well-being of marginalized youth.” The researchers surveyed 257 poor students, 91 percent of whom were ethnic minorities.

“‘If the system is fair, why am I seeing that everybody who has brown skin is in this kind of job?’ You’re having to think about that … like you’re not as good, or your social group isn’t as good,” said Godfrey to The Atlantic. “That’s the piece … that I was trying to really get at [by studying] these kids.”

Godfrey suggested that students who believed America was fair found themselves acting out stereotypes.

“I do think that there’s this element of ‘people think of me this way anyway, so this must be who I am,'” she said to The Atlantic. “If you’re [inclined] to believe that things are the way they should be, and [that] the system is fair, then you’re maybe going to accept stereotypes about you more easily.”

“Educators and school systems can push for systemic change in how the US public school system teaches youth about meritocracy,” said the researchers collectively in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The researchers linked to a study asserting that ethnic studies “can considerably improve academic performance.”

“Teachers can also support students to engage in making positive change in their own schools and communities,” said the researchers to TheDCNF. “In addition, teachers can advocate for systemic change in how we teach our youth, by encouraging diverse perspectives and promoting practices such as the teaching of ethnic studies and critical texts within their schools, districts, and communities.”

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