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Examining The Link Between Teachers’ Racial Beliefs And Perceptions Of Students’ Social Emotional Competencies

Multiple indices demonstrate that racial differences exist in teachers’ perceptions of students (Anderson-Clark et al., 2008; Tenenbaum & Ruck, 2007). One study showed preservice teachers’ perceptions of a student’s disengaged/insubordinate behavior described in a vignette varied regarding the race of the child described. Teachers were six times more likely to perceive that misbehavior would occur again when the student had a stereotypical Black name (without race listed). They were four times more likely when race was made explicit than when the student had a stereotypical White name (Anderson-Clark et al., 2008). Teachers’ racialized perceptions shape children’s development through their interactions with students, disciplinary strategies, and judgments of student emotions (Koomen & Jellesma, 2015). These factors can undermine student-teacher relationships, affecting children's development of internalizing problems such as depression, anxiety, and somatization (Jellesma et al., 2015).

Teachers’ beliefs about causes of racial inequity likely contribute to teachers’ perceptions of children’s abilities and behaviors. For instance, teachers who hold individualistic and cultural deficit beliefs about racial inequality in America (believing racial inequities are at the fault of the individual or their cultures values, have been shown to view Black children’s behaviors as more hostile than their White peers (Legette et al., 2021).      No study to date has investigated the relationship between teachers’ racial inequity beliefs and their perception of a student’s social-emotional competence (SEC). Thus, the goal of our study is to investigate whether White teachers’ beliefs about racial inequity shape their evaluation of Black, Latinx and White students’ SEC.  We hypothesize that White teachers’ perceptions of SEC will be shaped by their racial inequity beliefs. Specifically, we expect teachers who hold individualistic or cultural deficit beliefs about racial inequity will evaluate Black and Latinx students’ SEC skills lower than teachers holding schooling inequity beliefs.