Pretend, for a minute, you’re a school administrator (this is only pretend, so put away the liquor and razor blades…) and you’re faced with the uncomfortable fact that your minority students are scoring much lower on standardized tests than your white students. It’s a seemingly intractable problem, this “racial achievement gap,” and one that has no easy answers.
Unless you live in Berkeley, that is. For it’s in Berkeley that they’ve finally discovered the easiest way to erase that nasty achievement gap: instead of trying to find ways to improve the performance of the lowest-scoring students, perhaps it’s simply easier to narrow the gap by getting rid of opportunities for higher-performing students. Moreover, since you live in Berkeley, all of this just has to have a racial element.
So what’s their solution? Why, cutting science labs that some people feel are “too white,” of course. What a perfectly sensible way to solve the problem.
Never mind the fact that some of these classes are more “diverse” than the City of Berkeley itself (17.5% African American and 13.9% Latino in one case versus 13.6% and 9.7% for the city), if too many white kids are in advanced classes, then those classes have got to go:
On international science tests, American students perpetually lag behind their peers in other developed countries. A logical response might be to beef up science programs in government schools, but logic is hard to come by in skin-deep-only-diversity-obsessed bureaucracies.
One school seeks to do the opposite, and for the most insulting of reasons. Berkeley High’s School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students, proposes to eliminate before- and after-school science labs at Berkeley High School…
What’s immediately clear is that this decision has virtually nothing to do with education. As noted, American students already trail numerous countries in their knoweldge of science; cutting science labs from the curriculum is certainly not going to help matters. Clearly — and unsurprisingly — this is about nothing more than skin color. As others have noted, the school has decided to adopt a race-based “equality of outcome” approach. Instead of giving every student an equal opportunity to succeed or fail, the school has decided to attempt to manage the results to the detriment of white students who are perceived to be doing better than their minority peers (and never mind those minority peers who’re also excelling).
What this will likely mean in practice is that the average underperforming student’s test scores might raise slightly while the average overperforming student’s test scores will almost certainly decline, as the resources allocated to their education are diverted elsewhere. In the interests of making sure “whites” don’t get ahead (and remember, the proportion of minority students in these courses not only reflects the demographic breakdown in Berkeley itself, it’s actually somewhat higher), the decision has been made — on nothing more than racial grounds — to cut courses from the curriculum.
More important than education, apparently, is maintaining the illusion that everyone is equal in all ways. Note that this does not mean than I subscribe to a philosophy that holds that white people are inherently smarter than everyone else. I’m fully aware of the data that shows that people who come from minority backgrounds are educationally disadvantaged for a variety of reasons, including economic and cultural factors as well as the legacy of discrimination by whites. None of those things, however, can be fixed by cutting classes that have lots of white kids in them, regardless of how “unfair” some people might perceive that situation to be (and let me emphasize once again that, in some cases, minorities are overrepresented in these classes in relation to their proportion of the population of Berkeley).
It’s always struck me as a bit incongruous how the people who so consistently and shrilly complain about all-pervasive racial injustice are so quick to resort to decision-making based on purely racial factors. And then they go around calling everyone who disagrees with them a racist. Yeah. Okay.
In any case, there’s that old adage about people in the Soviet Union being poor but equal. It seems Berkeley High School is trying to reproduce that situation in their test scores.