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A new study says teachers can be implicitly biased towards students as early as preschool. Are teachers implicitly biased against African-American students — and African-American boys in particular — as early as preschool? A new study from the Yale Child Study Center wades into this fraught question, looking at preschool teachers’ sometimes unconscious attitudes about student behaviors. The findings suggest that teachers who care for very young children may judge those kids’ behaviors differently based on race: both black and white teachers judge students of the other race more harshly once they know a thing or two about the student’s family lives, for instance. But one thing seems clear: both black and white teachers are watching black students more closely for potential misbehavior. Yale’s Walter Gilliam, an associate professor of child psychiatry and psychology and the lead researcher on the study.
They begin with young black boys and their preschool teachers — if not earlier. For the study, Gilliam’s team set up two experiments with teachers. Then researchers tracked, among other measures, where teachers’ eyes went. Gilliam told reporters earlier this week. What we did not tell the teachers was that the preschoolers in the videos were all actors assisting us in the study, and that no challenging behaviors were depicted in the videos. Teachers watched a total of 12 clips, each 30 seconds long, featuring a black boy, a black girl, a white boy and a white girl.