Berkeley High School is in the midst of a difficult debate over the elimination of science labs and five science teachers to shift resources to help struggling students. Some have objected that the science courses primarily help white students and should be reduced to add greater “equity” for struggling and minority students.
The school board insists that it is merely trying to spread resources to benefit the more students and to create a “less stressful” environment.
What is curious is that the school’s data page shows that the student body is roughly 37% white, so that it would not be surprising to see a large number of white students in any class. Moreover, Mardi Sincular-Mertens, who has taught science at BHS for 24 years, said that 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.
It seems to me that cutting such science classes is a bizarre response given the efforts to train our students for the 21st Century world. Other countries are putting far greater emphasis on math and science and we are already seeing the impact of this educational gap. The minority community in particular is at risk of being underprepresented in the science field — the most promising careers in the decade to come.
The story also reminds us of the continued reduction of educational programs and the sale of public buildings and parks as the government continues to burn through billions of dollars in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, here. I have personally heard of science and other programs being cut out in my area due to a lack of funding as billions simply evaporate abroad, including continued allegations of corruption.
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