Science in Berkeley, it's a white thing

Several readers have pointed me to this development at Berkeley High School:

Berkeley High School is considering a controversial proposal to eliminate science labs and the five science teachers who teach them to free up more resources to help struggling students.

The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High's School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley's dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.

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.

There's a small issue here, and that's the allocation of resources efficient to solve proximate problems. In other words, California is currently under fiscal strain, as are localities. Secondary education is always under strain in this country. Berkeley High School has always had issues with disparities between whites & Asians and blacks & Latinos (though this is no exceptional dynamic). Here's the demographic data for Berkeley High School:


The 2006-2008 American Community Survey says that Berkeley's overall population is:

Non-Hispanic white - 57.4%
Black - 9.3%
Hispanic - 10.7%
Asian - 18.1%

One issue is UC Berkeley students who are being counted in the ACS are probably inflating the proportion of Asians. The modal age bracket in Berkeley is 20-24. The modal bracket is in the 35-50 range in both Oakland to the south, and Albany to the north. But it is striking that Non-Hispanic whites are so underrepresented and blacks so overrepresented. There is only one public high school in Berkeley. It is likely correct that blacks in Berkeley are more fertile than the whites, but I don't think the disparity is striking enough to account for the demographics of Berkeley High School. Rather, many whites must be sending their children to private schools.

This action will reinforce this tendency; the type of engaged parents which a public school benefits from won't consider sending their child to one which has to slash science laboratories to focus on remedial education. So Berkeley High School is simply accelerating its long death spiral.

More generally, the bizarre racialist logic used to justify the slashing of the science curriculum, that science implicitly benefits whites, is objectionable (at least to me, and likely to readers of this weblog). Our civilization is grounded fundamentally in science. Additionally, Berkeley High School is just a few blocks from UC Berkeley, where there are plenty of non-whites who do science. 42% of the undergraduates at UC Berkeley are Asian, as opposed to 31% who are white. The word "Asian" of course is not found in the story above, because it doesn't fit the whites-against-the-rest narrative. From what I can tell a substantial proportion of the citizenry of Berkeley and similar communities remain stuck in a 1960s time-warp when it comes to ethnic relations. Back then this was an America in black & white.

Here's the most recent ACS on California:

42.3% White (not including White Hispanic)
36.6% Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
12.5% Asian
6.7% Black or African American
2.6% Multiracial
1.2% American Indian

Berkeley is much whiter and blacker than California as a whole. As I noted above, the transient presence of Cal students probably inflates the Asian American proportion, but these students are not going to be long term members of the community. The city's peculiar and anachronistic demographics may explain the unselfconsciousness of Berkeley's racialist politics.

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I wonder if anyone thought that whites perform better BECAUSE they attend the science labs. As such, this policy will just bring whites down to the level of the other races, rather than bring the other races up.

Oh well, as long as everyone is equally bad, everything is OK.

I sometimes wonder why the whites and Asians in the USA don't just declare independence.

By bioIgnoramus (not verified) on 30 Dec 2009 #permalink

Berkeley is just a weird place in general. The city has amazingly silly laws that often make zero sense. I honestly can't fathom why people want to live there. Even if I worked at the university I think I'd commute. (Of course given the realty situation there I'd probably have no choice...)

So this really isn't at all out of character for the city.

When I was wee, my parents went to a school board meeting--this is in the midwest--where the bigwig for our district displayed a graph showing two categories of students, underperformers (basically failing) and honors students (getting the highest standardized test scores in the state). What was their goal? Everyone in the middle. Mediocrity is the nirvana of school boards.

Everyone's hurting, but everyone hurts more in sunny California thanks to their nutso anti-tax rabble.

I wish you hadn't posted this article. My wife and I just had a big fight in discussing it where I was accused of thought crimes.

According to Wikipedia, Berkeley is 13% black.

Berkeley is full of old line white radicals/Communists. Such as a few of my relatives. They are a very crazy, but stable population because they own their homes, or have rent-stabilized apartments, like Manhattan.

Perhaps some Berkeley whites are sending their kids to private schools, but I think that the 29% figure is because a lot of blacks from Oakland lie and get their kids into the better high school. Who's gonna stop them? The old line white radicals and Commies who make up the school system. I am NOT joking about this. I have dealt with them personally and they are out to lunch.

This is just the beginning of a complete leveling process.

Check out this article (from Volokh):

I mention it because of this line:

""You see, it's a crime to act white, or it's a crime to be white," the uncle testified."

There ya go.

Instead of running up the racial wars, how about we address the real problem: funding cuts. People who wish to have lower taxes have no room to complain about classes being cut.

As a white liberal who lives in northern ca, I appologize for my people.

By Scrabcake (not verified) on 30 Dec 2009 #permalink

"Instead of running up the racial wars, how about we address the real problem: funding cuts."

Yeah, sure, I bet funding cuts are going to cure the "problem" of "acting white."

Funding cuts are going to increase black participation in science labs.


I suspect the people getting excited about the coming demise of the White race are exaggerating the importance of this story. To me, it looks like one more minor footnote to the problem of falling revenues and rising costs in California.
But, I have another question: I sometime wonder if the kind of nonsense that passes for thinking in the "White radical" crowd is harmless bullshit or can it actually have a negative impact on the larger world? Sure, its easy to take potshots at the average University pomo poco con artist parasite, but do they really have any serious impact on the wider world? Or are we in fact better off keeping these people "employed" teaching some bullshit in some classes that everyone forgets next week?
What has played a bigger role in the decline of US manufacturing? Edward Said style nonsense or business school grads who vote republican? This is not a rhetorical question...I am really curious if someone can quantify how much damage the wooly-headed thinking of the average white "radical" actually does?


I'm not upset over the coming demise of the white race.

I am upset that intelligent working class whites, the kind who used to use the school system as a means of upward social mobility, will be destroyed by their proximity to social leveling forces.

Yes, I speak from personal experience.


Sure, its easy to take potshots at the average University pomo poco con artist parasite, but do they really have any serious impact on the wider world?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm much more inclined to believe the "intelligentsia" only jumps aboard the cultural locomotive. They do not create the cultural locomotive***.

Removing the libart professors won't change any social trend nor would history look any different if most liberal thinkers had never been born.

Case in point, there is no question that, even without the existence of Alfred Kinsey, Hugh Hefner, 1960's Feminism, and the wildly exaggerated influence of the Frankfurt School, and others, the sexual revolution was going to happen no matter what thanks to the pill, abortion, and widely available contraception. Intellectuals had little if anything to do with the creation of free sex.

But it is much easier for the "Far White" to pin the blame on intellectuals (especially those of the Hebraic persuasion) rather than complex social dynamics because the radical white fringe too lacking in IQ to offer any meaningful insight into modern society.

Re: The imminent extermination of all the Earth's 1 billion Europeans, I concede the Far White sometimes brings up important issues such as immigration and dysgenics, but the WN fringe needs to drop the hyperbole and hysterics if they want to be taken seriously (which they clearly don't /snark).

"Euroman" is still king of the evolutionary hill, despite cultured and sophisticated prophocies of doom such as this:

Free Trade Failed To Lift The Poor Into First World Conditions

James Bowery said at December 30, 2009 7:32 PM:

But they need to wait for the neurogeneticists to blaze the way first.

"Can't we delay it until the Germans have been fucked out of existence by immigrants so they aren't around to say "We told you so!"?"

I couldn't have phrased it better myself.


*** P.S. this entry by TGGP nicely mirrors my own thoughts regarding the relative unimportance of the intelligentsia:…

I argue instead that their ideas are LESS powerful than is commonly understood, but are instead more commonly the result of the material forces to which Marx attributed ideology. I will use both Keynes and Marx as cases in point. As John T. Flynn pointed out in As We Go Marching, âKeynesianâ policies of using deficit spending to boost economies were popular well before Keynes wrote his General Theory (and Rawls after-the-fact justification of New Deal egalitarianism is even more obviously an epiphenomena). I expect many people would use Marx as a counter-example of how much suffering can be caused by one personâs ideas, but Iâm not convinced. First, there is a folk-Marxism which preceded Marx and made communism relatively congenial to our natures. Furthermore, there were a great many revolutionary ideologies of his time, he just happened to win out and wind up with his name associated with the relatively successful ones. Louis Blanqui and Proudhon preceded him in France, carrying on the legacy of the Jacobins. The anarchists Bakunin (Marxâs rival in the First International) and Kropotkin as well as the nihilists could quite plausibly have succeeded in bringing revolution to Russia had Marx & Engels never existed.

PPS: For the sake of setting the record straight I shall note that the majority of immigrants to Germany over the past 20 years have been Eastern European, Yugoslav, and Western European.

To be fair the overall debate ends up being more complex and there actually are good arguments on both sides. Do you separate out achievers and underachievers and address them individually? Or do you mainstream everyone which brings underachievers up but which often bores the highly intelligent?

The problem here isn't that issue though but the apparent disbanding of science education when everyone ideally ought to be involved in it. The racial bit probably has to do with the school making a racial generalization that the African American kids are all underachievers. Perhaps a fair one (I don't know) based upon the makeup of the science classes.

Regarding the ratio of black to white one should note that many whites in Berkeley are older yet the realty situation is such they aren't moving and those moving are apt to be older to afford the home prices. Likewise there's social pressures there for small families - with some I've talked with that having kids is an environmental evil. None of those affect most of the black neighborhoods which are basically run down ghettos. One wished the marxists in Berkely did more there...

Just to clarify, I'm not worried about the imminent demise of the white race because it's not gonna happen.

BTW, am I the only one who thinks that white nationalism and white nationalist thinking is become kinda sorta mainstreamed? Not in its pure form by its originators but in 2nd, 3rd and 4th, degrees of separation?

Just curious.

BTW, am I the only one who thinks that white nationalism and white nationalist thinking is become kinda sorta mainstreamed? Not in its pure form by its originators but in 2nd, 3rd and 4th, degrees of separation?

Whether WN is taking off heavily depends on how exactly you define "White Nationalism" because the WNs haven't yet cooked up a clear and consistent definition of what WN "principles" entail.

IMO there seems to be a general backlash against PC orthodoxy emerging at popular Republican watering holes such as Freerepublic, Atlas Shrugs and because of illegal immigration and the current Muslim conflict with the West.

But it is most doubtful whether this new reactionary perkiness has anything at at all to do with the political acumen of WNs so much as ordinary people independently saying "enough".

While mainstream conservatism is becoming more electrified, the extreme fringers, the James Bowerys, Tanstaafls and GuessedWorkers of the internet seem safely locked away and irrelevant in their insane asylums, though the guards could do us all a favor and and revoke their computer privileges.

Herr Bowery in particular would benefit from having his Thorazine injections upped a bit.

I sure hope not. I really like the mixing pot metaphor and wish we were more like that. The idea of our breaking up into quasi-tribes bugs me a lot. It's one thing to be proud or interested in your heritage - an other to define yourself by it.

This may be a dumb question, but I don't live in Kalifornia so I think its valid.

How can they cut out science? Isn't there some kind of required curriculum law there?

This reminds me of a city outside of St. Louis, MO. Under the No Child Left Behind act the city had to publish their data on pass/fail rates. The school did great except for the black demographic. The school published the data in a nice format, broken down by grade, race, scores, etc. In almost every category it was the blacks lowering the average and flunking the school.

Predictably the blacks raised a big fuss against the school for laying out the data in such a manner that the blacks got blamed for the school failing.

The school apologized and said that next year they would not publish the data in that manner again. Next year they would use a graph.

I guess without understanding math the blacks won't be able to read a graph and therefore won't be upset next year.

By Red Rob Reb (not verified) on 10 Jan 2010 #permalink