Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


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Published in Journal of School Psychology 98 (2023), pp. 224–239



Copyright © 2023 Society for the Study of School Psychology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


In this study, we investigated differences in teachers’ perceptions of the teacher-child relationship from kindergarten through second grade as a function of child race and gender from the perspective of critical race theory and the cultural synchrony hypothesis. Given the extensive evidence of White privilege and anti-Black racism in the US education system, we expected that teachers, particularly White teachers, would perceive their relationships with White children more positively than with Black children. Controlling for family SES and child gender, results supported this hypothesis. Black boys had the highest risk of being perceived by teachers as having poor relationships with teachers in kindergarten (highest conflict and lowest closeness) and White girls had the lowest risk. In addition, teachers perceived relationships with Black boys as increasing in conflict across first and second grades at higher rates than with White and female children. These findings remained after examining teacher-child racial match as a moderator. Our results indicate that racism and sexism work together to explain the perceptions teachers have of children in the early elementary grades. Implications for training teachers and school psychologists on anti-racism and cultural competency are discussed.