M. Benedetti

University of Cincinnati (UNITED STATES)
The Roma, or, as they are often called, Gypsies, are by far the most hated and most discriminated against European ethnic/cultural minority . A wave of right-wing organizations and even governments, particularly in Eastern Europe, have recently called for even greater institutionalized discrimination, which has served to reinforce generations-old stereotypes. The situation of the Roma in Europe is dire; even in more progressive cultures, they are for the most part still unable to achieve economic or educational equity.

Large- and small-scale initiatives to improve the status of the Roma have had various degrees of success. One potential approach to the problem is obviously through education. Many educational efforts have fallen short, however, in that they don't appear to effect change in long-term prejudices in individuals or in discriminatory practices within institutions. It may be that instead of focusing the the students or the institutions, educational initiatives should instead look toward the teachers. Teachers are ideally placed to influence the beliefs and behaviors of generations of students. But in many studies, teachers themselves have been shown to perpetuate the negative stereotypes in their classes. It seems reasonable, then, to assume that the issue needs to be addressed in teacher education and professional development.programs. But where do we begin? How do we know what teachers believe about Roma students?

In this preliminary study, pre- and in-service teachers at a large public university in Brno, Czech Republic were surveyed about their attitudes toward Roma students. Three types of information were collected:
1. participants' personal familiarity with Roma people;
2. participants' attitudes and beliefs about the Roma ;
3. participants' dispositions related to working with Roma students.

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was then used to determine the relationships among variables in these three categories. Results may shed some light on how teacher education/professional development programs with the goal of decreasing personal and institutional racism toward this minority need to be designed or adapted.