Via Chris Anderson
comes this rather odd news about plans for Berkeley High School to cut science labs
as part of the school's measures to "address Berkeley's dismal racial achievement gap." Apparently white students at the school do "far better than the state average while black and Latino students [do] worse." Fair enough. That's something worth looking into, but taking away science labs? According to one of the people who helped put forth the proposal, "science labs were largely classes for white students." So, just do away with them? Why not explore why
that is? Or see if there's something more proactive to be done about it? Of course, it's not even true that it's just white kids taking science labs:
Science teachers were understandably horrified by the proposal. "The majority of the science department believes that this major policy decision affecting the entire student body, the faculty, and the community has been made without any notification, without a hearing," said Mardi Sicular-Mertens, the senior member of Berkeley High School's science department, at last week's school board meeting.
Sincular-Mertens, who has taught science at BHS for 24 years, said the possible cuts will impact her black students as well. She says there are twelve African-American males in her AP classes and that her four environmental science classes are 17.5 percent African American and 13.9 percent Latino. "As teachers, we are greatly saddened at the thought of losing the opportunity to help all of our students master the skills they need to find satisfaction and success in their education," she told the board.
It seems like there must be more to this story than what's being reported. The concept of cutting science labs because more white students take them just seems too preposterous to make sense.