In an effort to close the racial achievement gap, Berkeley High School plans to fire five science teachers and eliminate science lab instruction to free up more resources to help struggling minority students.
One teacher who supports the decision says not to worry about the white students left without a science lab: "The most academically prepared kids will get by. They’ll find tutors, they’ll learn the material one way or another. But the others won’t."
This is part of a national trend of high achieving white students being left to fend for themselves as schools and teachers shift their time and resources toward educational strategies aimed at lifting minority achievement. According to a report issued in 2008 by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, our nation's brightest students appear to be languishing for lack of attention since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001.
NCLB requires schools and districts to focus their attention on the academic achievement of students of "major racial and ethnic subgroups." While many previous state-created systems of accountability only measured average school performance, NCLB mandates that achievement gaps be eliminated between white and black students within the same school. Under NCLB, entire schools have been forced to close because of a handful of black students who are unable to keep up with their white peers.
In Houston, a high school with 2500 students was closed because not enough black students (who made up only 4% of the student body) were able to pass a state-mandated math exam. The school had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars implementing a new math program designed to boost math scores among blacks. It was unsuccessful, and because a handful of blacks couldn't pass the test, nearly 2400 white and Hispanic students had to be relocated to other overcrowded schools.
Across the country, any classes or programs that are seen as benefiting whites are being eliminated. In 2008, the College Board cited minority underrepresentation as the reason for the elimination of the Advanced Placement exams in Computer Science, Latin Literature, Italian, and French Literature. [The AP Spanish exams are still offered, presumably because Hispanics tend to do well on them.]
Schools no longer care about achievement itself; the racial achievement gap is the only thing that matters. And since programs designed to raise minority achievement haven't closed the racial achievement gap, steps are now being taken to deliberately hinder white achievement.