Thursday, December 31, 2009

Science Education Is Only for White Students - So Cut It

This is stupid, stupid, stupid, on so many levels. It's so stupid that it seems calculated to get national press.

In the past I've defended my chosen home of the San Francisco Bay Area (which I've temporarily vacated for school) as a source of innovative ideas, at the leading edge of the new economy. The unfortunate price you pay for having original thinkers is that there will also be lots of dingbats along for the ride. It greatly pains me to see Berkeley - a great city which I absolutely loved living in for 10 years - is doing a great job reinforcing stereotypes.

Are you ready?

Berkeley Schools are going to cut science labs and divert funds to bad students. Not only that - the justification given is that the science labs are mainly attended by white kids.

Yes, really. Read the article.

Economies are increasingly dependent on people able to introduce new technological innovations to a competitive global marketplace. Moves like this are economically suicidal, and this particular one is racist to boot. Sorry, non-white students; I guess Berkeley High thinks you're so irredeemably dumb that you'll never be able to make it in science labs. Good luck at McDonald's. It's telling that instead of identifying the performance of some students as a problem and trying to bring them up to a level where they too were entering the science labs, the solution is just to cut the top-performing students' classes altogether, and (ignorantly) brushing it aside by saying they were the wrong race anyway.

I imagine one of these kids from Berkeley in the future competing with a student from China to get a job at a top international firm. And I imagine the hiring manager looking at the Chinese applicant's obviously superior skills and exam results, but then saying, "but you know, the American candidate came from a challenged background. I know it'll mean that our firm's competitiveness will be diminished but let's give the job to the American, otherwise his feelings will be hurt." And to keep imagining that scenario I would have to take more and stronger drugs, because that's not ever going to happen. China does not have the same problems we do where it comes to educational priorities, and we will pay the price sooner rather than later. If I were in the Chinese Communist Party, I would throw back my head and laugh when I saw the title of this article.

The money quote is this:

"Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous."

Let's play a game and see how this same statement sounds - and would sound in the mainstream media - with one word or phrase switched:

" labs were largely classes for Mexican students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous."

Or how about:

" labs were largely classes for teaching evolution. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming evangelical students was virtually unanimous."

If I had kids at Berkeley High right now, I would take them out immediately. This announcement is tantamount to saying that they're not serious about education, and they're trying to become an inner-city baby-sitting institution. We have enough of those.

The bottom line is that a schoolboard (in a city with a top American university no less) is willing to cut science classes, sabotaging the American economy and openly justifying the action racially. If this makes you as angry as me - and it should - then I hope you have the same reaction when a bigger, much-better organized group of oversensitive idiots with a different economy-sabotaging agenda tries to dumb down American science classes. That group would be the creationism-in-school idiots, like the Discovery Institute, and they're even worse.

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