The Rural Schools Association of New York

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Paternal Incarceration and Teachers’ Expectations of Students

With 54 state prisons, and a jail in nearly every county, it is likely that we serve students with an incarcerated parent (this study only looked at the case of incarcerated fathers). We all stereotype in necessary and important ways (take an umbrella when skies are cloudy, don’t touch a stove – it might be hot, etc.), we also stereotype in ways that can be harmful. Most of our stereotypes are outside of our awareness, for example, we might think about the cloudy-sky-umbrella example as a fact, rather than a stereotype; but the fact is that not all cloudy skies produce rain. It has been shown that if we can remind ourselves that often, people – and sometimes even I, usually implicitly – incorrectly assume children with an incarcerated father are likely to have challenging behaviors, that this reminder ensure we are more fair. In other words, being conscious about the fact that stereotypes can get in the way, ensures we don’t unconsciously act on them. (This study talks about the stereotype, but I didn’t want you to walk away without a strategy to address it.) Read the article here.

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