There are many ways to characterize a good education: the material being taught, the general lessons that a child learns, the way a child feels about going to school. In America, we’re lucky to have schools that have great curriculums at every level. However, we still struggle with discrimination in schools. And it’s not limited to students discriminating against students. When a teacher discriminates against your child at school, it’s absolutely despicable. And illegal.
If your child has an unreasonably hard time with school and complains about being treated unfairly, you may want to take a closer look. Of course, many children who are called out for misbehavior or failure to participate might tell you they are being treated unfairly. We are talking about something deeper here, though; real discrimination.
For example, if your child receives different treatment from others due to a disability, that’s discrimination. This also applies to treatment based on race, gender, religion, sexuality or even because they are struggling with a class.
When a teacher discriminates against your child at school, you might see the following signs:
- The grades are unreasonably low considering the quality of your child’s work. You’ve read your child’s essay and the essay of a student with a perfect score. They are both equal in level and quality. You have to wonder why one student got an A, and why your child got a D. Your child has a right to request a reason for the discrepancy.
- Your child gets written up for trivial things. While a teacher has a right to discipline students, take note if a teacher singles out your child more frequently than others, or more frequently than seems necessary.
- The teacher actively ignores your child when they complain about other students bullying them. This might be illegal, and against most schools’ “zero tolerance” policies. If you notice this, start writing down incidents as soon as they happen. You will have to bring this to the authorities’ attention – for the sake of your child and other children in the school.
- Your child has told you that the teacher said some pretty disparaging things to them, and has lost confidence because of it. Teachers should never put down students or embarrass them in any way. If a teacher has taunted your child, you should report that teacher. (Remember, however, to do your homework before pointing the finger. After all, the teacher’s livelihood and reputation are at stake.)
One of the most basic student rights in America is the right to an education in a healthy and non-threatening environment. When a teacher discriminates against your child at school, you have a responsibility as a parent to get involved. Start with the school guidance counselor or bullying officer. If this proves insufficient, you can seek out legal guidance, or file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.