White K12 Educators' Responses to Racism: A Meta-Synthesis Journey

Published: 29 June 2020| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/hfn9cx9gm4.2
Patricia McClure


Numerous studies have identified in-service culturally responsive instructional strategies. However, although teachers of color often take care to apply such strategies, there is ample evidence that many white preservice and in-service educators resist race education. Current research seems to indicate that many white K12 educators are confused or fearful about discussing race in the classroom. The aim of this meta-synthesis is to identify the behaviors and characteristics of white educators who possess culturally responsive pedagogical content knowledge and working racial knowledge. The present QMS study poses the following questions: • What common themes emerge from the research on racial behaviors of white K12 educators in the United States? • What can guide the development of anti-racism and culturally responsive instructional strategies? The dataset for this meta-synthesis is limited to ten research articles using grounded theory as the method of analysis. The target populations' in the research articles are preservice and in-service teachers with half of the studies originating from teacher education programs from the Northeast region of the United States. Online culturally responsive and multicultural courses were research topics for four of the articles, while four of the articles researched the racial behaviors of white preservice and in-service teachers. The other two research studies were conducted in public schools to explore white teachers' attitudes about their students of color. Five of the studies were conducted in the Northeastern United States, two of the studies were conducted in the South, two were conducted in the Midwest, and one was conducted in the Southwest. The findings from this meta-synthesis fall into seven core themes related to the racial behaviors of white preservice and in-service teachers in both online courses and brick and mortar classrooms: culturally relevant pedagogies, culturally responsive online instructional strategies, racism in education, nonracial teacher education programs, anti-racist behaviors in white teachers, anti-racist teaching strategies, nonracial instructional practices. Only one of the seven themes, anti-racist behaviors in white teachers, provide sufficient data to answer both research questions. The data provide convincing evidence that there are common themes in the racial behaviors of white anti-racist educators. The anti-racist and culturally responsive behaviors in white educators include the development of critical consciousness, the ability to engage in honest self-reflection, and self-identification as a social justice change agent and a global citizen. However, many white educators embrace nonracial discourse and colorblind ideology while supporting diversity, culturally responsive strategies, and multiculturalism in schools. These educators passively reject individual acts of racism but reject or ignore systemic racism in society, government, and education.



Education, Teacher Education, Racism