La Shawn Barber

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.

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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 (BHS) and divert resources to narrowing the intractable racial academic achievement gap. According to the East Bay Express, an alternate parent representative on the council said "information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students," although black students take science classes. One teacher said she has 12 black male students in her Advanced Placement classes, and black and Hispanic students account for a third of her four environmental science classes.

BHS purportedly has the widest racial academic achievement gap in California, which the council deemed "unconscionable." Depriving students of science lab instruction because the labs benefit mostly white students apparently isn't unconscionable.

"The labs help the struggling students most," physics teacher Matt McHugh told the Berkeley Daily Planet, "because they're the ones who need the most help."

For those who frequently blog and write about racial preferences and lowered standards for blacks, this isn't surprising or shocking. Bureaucrats are embarrassed that blacks lag behind their peers, so taxpayers fork over millions to try to achieve the unattainable goal of equal outcomes.

Berkeley High's plan apparently was surprising and shocking to tech blogger and Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson. Author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More and Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Anderson mentioned the story on Twitter, and other bloggers picked it up.

"I'm not necessarily opposed to race-based proposals," Anderson told me via e-mail. "I just think the premise of this one—'science is for white people'--is absurd and deeply counterproductive."


La Shawn Barber

Freelance writer La Shawn Barber blogs at the American Civil Rights Institute blog.