, Deborah Lambert, Leave a comment

What would you think of a high school meeting to discuss recent test scores that began by teachers saying: “What’s up, white people?”

According to Megan Wiley, a student at California’s Diablo High School, “it was really weird, especially when they started saying: ‘You should be proud of your race.’”

“Principal Bev Hansen noted in the Contra Costa Times story that she held the student assemblies by ethnicity this year and last year to avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores. The 1,600-student campus, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the Mt. Diablo school district, is roughly half Latino, 30 percent white and 15 percent black, with Asian nationalities rounding out the mix. Last year, the school improved its academic performance index score, largely based on test scores, to 613 out of 1,000. Among the races, Asians scored highest. Whites earned a 667. African-Americans scored a 580, whereas Latinos earned a 571. ‘I don’t want students being teased,’ Hansen said.
“In this country, race is a very uncomfortable topic, and it’s time we got over it,” Hansen said.

According to Jack Jennings, president of the National Center on Education Policy, the meetings might be illegal. “It’s segregation by race, whatever the motivation,” Jennings said, noting that he had never heard before of a school or district doing such a thing. “He called it another by-product of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act, which was increasingly causing pressure among teachers and administrators to raise test scores.”

Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for the Campus Report newsletter.