News from the Executive Office

implicit biases

As we prepare for the Sandra J. Skolnik Lecture today, I am reminded of Dr. Walter Gilliam, who was one of our presenters last year. Recently he released a new set of research findings that have compelled us to focus on our biases, especially as they impact the youngest children.

In his experimental study, Dr. Gilliam asked early educators to watch a video of children in a classroom and press a button each time they saw a “behavior that may become a potential challenge.” The video included four children- a black boy and girl and a white boy and girl engaged in a small group activity.  In reality, the video had no challenging behaviors in it. Using an eye tracking device, the research team measured where teachers were looking on the screen. Findings revealed that teachers spent significantly more time looking at the black boy in the video, than any other child.

We all carry around “implicit biases,” and we’ve got to figure out how to rid ourselves of them or at least manage them so that we don’t, for instance, contribute unnecessarily to the high expulsion rates of minority children in early care and education settings.  Here’s Dr. Gilliam’s study.

Coming up on December 7, we will be celebrating Linda K. Smith, the winner this year of our 2016 Nancy S. Grasmick Leadership in Early Care and Education award.  I’ll write more about Linda in December. In the meantime, here’s what she writes about Dr. Gilliam’s study and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ data on preschool expulsions. This is very sobering information that cannot be ignored.

More information about addressing implicit bias in early care and education settings is available here.