Teaching Race in the Classroom

This section is designed to help all teachers embrace strategies to enable the Catto story to connect to their students and provide the means to have meaningful discussions about American issues, particularly involving race, equity and citizenship, that are embedded in Catto and the American Civil Rights Story.

Race, in particular, can be an uncomfortable conversation for most Americans. In our classrooms, it is even more so. Teachers in many subject areas may not think the topic is relevant. However, teaching is about making connections to students. To make connections it is important to be willing to see the world through the lenses and experiences of the students being served. To do this, it is necessary for teachers to incorporate outside of the classroom realities into the curriculum. By not doing so, students feel that their teachers do not care about or understand them or the world they are living in. To many, it makes school irrelevant because it is not about them and the issues that impact their everyday lives and the world around them. Research shows that student disconnection with school and the way schools handle behavior issues vary between students of color than white students. It also shows that students, of all races, who tend to be the “deep thinkers” (most have C averages) are turned off from school when substantive issues are not address. These students are also the most likely to drop out of school. Finally, it is also impossible to have serious conversations and school policy reforms about poverty without dealing with race and how its impacts our children.

———H. Richard Milner, IV

Author of Start Where You Are, But Don’t Stay There and Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms (both published by Harvard Education Press)

Check out the reporting in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Race and the Classroom

Opening remarks by Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney, and the keynote address by Dr. H. Richard Milner, given at the National Constitution Center for the launch of the Catto Education Professional Development Series for the Philadelphia School District, sponsored by the Catto Memorial Fund.

Opening Remarks by John Kenney

Using Catto to Teach Race by Rich Milner

Milner Presentation Slides