Teachers can abandon implicit bias training under House bill

Representative Mindy McAlindon (R-Centeron) successfully approved House Act 1559 by the House Education Committee on Thursday. The bill would allow teachers to drop any training they deem to include implicit bias, a situation that isn’t really an issue in Arkansas schools, McAlindon said.

“Implicit bias training – while well-intentioned – does not lead to significant changes, in fact it can lead to increased anger and frustration,” she said, quoting a Scientific American article.

McAlindon failed to mention that what she called the “study” is a 2020 op-ed that recognized for the first time how implicit bias is likely the reason why racial and ethnic disparities in health care have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. The anger and frustration mentioned by McAlindon was actually based on how white employees reacted to the training. The article also links to a separate Harvard Business Review article that claims diversity policies are threatening white men.

The Scientific American article closed by stating that people should not give up trying to understand implicit bias or training to reduce discrimination.

Representative Denise Garner (D-Fayetteville) was the only voiced opponent of the bill.

McAlindon’s bill would also ensure that school administrators cannot “take adverse action against an employee” — presumably meaning they cannot be fired — for abandoning a training session. Straight from the bill, here is how he describes the training:

“Implied bias training” means a training or educational program designed to expose an individual to biases that the developer or designer of the training or educational program presumes the individual unconsciously or unintentionally possesses that predisposes the individual to be unfairly biased for or against an thing, person, or group to adjust the individual’s thinking pattern in order to eliminate the individual’s unconscious or unintentional bias or prejudice.

MacAlindon said that Governor Sarah Sandersoffice of and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are “comfortable with the account”. This would apply to public and charter schools, as well as state-supported higher education.

According to National Health Institutions, implicit bias occurs automatically and is unintentional. This affects judgments and behaviors and can be a barrier to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. An NIH online course on implicit bias — a training that professors would be free to opt out of under McAlindon’s bill — states that there are different types of bias included under the umbrella of implicit bias. The course describes stereotypes, blind spots that hinder self-awareness, and the ways in which people favor beliefs similar to your own.

McAlindon’s bill will move to the House floor.

Teachers can abandon implicit bias training under House bill

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