Sailer: The ATLANTIC Notices What I Wrote About in 2016: Berkeley Schools Have Worst Race Gap in USA
June 02, 2017, 11:56 AM
Print Friendly and PDF
he Atlantic gets around to writing an article on the same subject as my Taki’s Magazine column 13 months ago: Why in the Stanford Education Data Archive are the worst white-black school test score gaps found in super-liberal college towns like Berkeley?
The College-Town Achievement Gap

Persistent inequality plagues the places some prestigious universities call home. Are the higher-education institutions to blame?


… Berkeley High School has developed a required freshman ethnic-studies class and anti-racism curriculum that Vice Principal Tamara Friedman said “sets an important tone for the Berkeley High culture.” Shannon Fierro, the vice-principal of the school’s International Baccalaureate program, said the school is examining the question, “How do we teach white students to step back so students of color can step forward?” Teachers are implementing basic practices to address participation imbalances such as calling on students by randomly pulling names from a class set of name cards.

Berkeley’s longstanding efforts make its limited progress in closing the achievement gap a singular puzzle. It’s the only school in the country with an African American studies department of its kind, has a developing partnership with the NAACP, and worked on the racial-equity project with Noguera for five years. But its success in bolstering black-student achievement has been modest at best.

“The fact that Berkeley has such a history of social-justice activism makes it even worse,” said Donald Evans, the superintendent of the Berkeley school district, noting that the city’s residents have resisted efforts to examine racism in the community—racism that could affect the school climate. “People say we’re liberal; we don’t need it.”

Liberalism hasn’t failed in Berkeley, it just hasn’t been tried hard enough!

I wrote last year:

Thus, in a run-of-the-mill school district, the racial equality glass is part empty and part full.

But in elite Berkeley, after a half century of hyper-liberalism, the racial equality glass is almost bone-dry. It’s as if liberalism isn’t really concerned with white-black equality as much as it’s preoccupied with proving white-over-white superiority.

This raises the question of whether Berkeley is so unequal because whites are doing well or because blacks are doing poorly. The answer in the case of Berkeley appears to be some of both.

The Stanford Education Data Archive, led by education professor Sean Reardon, has released data tables on the relative sizes of racial gaps in state test scores across thousands of school districts for grades 3 to 8 from 2009 through 2013. … White kids in Berkeley averaged an impressive 2.7 grade levels higher than the national average across all races. But Berkeley’s Hispanics were 1.1 grade levels below the national average (all races) and Berkeley’s blacks scored 1.9 grade levels below the national average.

So, much of the reason for Berkeley’s immense racial gap (4.6 grade levels between whites and blacks) is because its white students, who tend to be the children of professors, Pixar employees, or the idle rich, score well. But Berkeley’s blacks do poorly, even by the standards of blacks in general, averaging below African-Americans in Chicago and Philadelphia.

One reason for this is that the Berkeley school district buses in some blacks from Oakland to make their schools more diverse. But another reason:
One exacerbating factor might be that Berkeley’s schools have traditionally been run according to progressive education fads insisted upon by white leftists. For example, the Gates Foundation gave a million dollars to Bill Ayers’ brother Rick Ayers, another ’60s radical ex-fugitive, to work his “small learning communities” voodoo upon Berkeley High School, with an unsurprisingly disastrous impact on math test scores.

Frustrated black parents in Berkeley have at times organized protests in favor of “back to basics” education for their children.

(By the way, the Stanford database hasn’t published any Asian test scores. Ambitious Asian parents tend to avoid the Berkeley school district, presumably viewing Berkeley as being into a lot of white hippie head trips that won’t help their tiger cubs ace the SAT.)

[Comment at]