Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Second Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Third Advisor

Aminah Pilgrim


The history of racism in the US is so ingrained in American culture that it has become normalized. This is true even in education. Despite well-documented reports that Black students are being subjectively and harshly disciplined for minor in-school infractions, there is a resistance to discussing how teachers are not being prepared to teach in culturally responsive ways. This study sought to shed light on how the impact of institutionalized racism, manifesting as racial microaggressions and implicit biases, are adversely impacting the classroom learning experiences of Black students in middle and high school. The findings of this study reveal the root of the problem exists in teacher preparation. Despite a largely white teaching force and a growing majority of students of color teachers are not being prepared to deal with their own implicit biases and how these biases impact the learning outcomes of their students thereby unintentionally preserving the academic achievement gap between Black students and their other raced peers. This research concludes with a call to action on the part of teacher educators to revise course work to include exercises that will help teachers confront their biases, disrupt the deficit narrative of the students they teach and learn culturally responsive teaching pedagogy.