According to Prof. Laurie Rubel of Brooklyn College, using a merit-based system is apparently a tool of whiteness (by which I assume she means it is a bad thing for non-whites). She has seriously gone off the rails here. The fact is that effort equals reward (reward being merit), and therefore suggests that she thinks that encouraging effort is in itself “racist.”
“Teachers often view participation of marginalized students as off-task, unproductive, or distracting, even when it reflects students’ membership of and competence in another social context, unbeknownst to the teacher.”
It seems convoluted but basically means that if a kid is acting up in class, they shouldn't be punished because they may be demonstrating a skill in another social context (e.g. building social capital with their friends). But then this brings us to the point…many non-white students say that being diligent and working hard is “acting white.” And so the teacher is encouraging the kids to NOT work hard (perhaps because their friends will like them more if they are losers who can't learn).
This is the REAL racism…The soft bigotry of low expectations. All serious studies show that children of all races and backgrounds can achieve the same positive results if given equal chances. This teacher does not want all children to have equal chances, she may think she wants her non-white students to achieve, but she is hampering them.
She needs to get out of the classroom, let kids work hard, and allow non-white kids to reach their full-potential without her condescending bigotry holding them back.