“We Cannot Mince Words”: San Francisco Education Official Denounces Meritocracy As Racist

Alison Collins, the Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education, has declared meritocracy to be racist even in the selection of students at advanced or gifted programs. As we have previously discussed, this has been a building campaign in academia as educators and others denounce selection based on academic performance through testing. At issue in San Francisco is Lowell High School where top students were selected through testing and grades.  Most cities have such gifted programs or institutions, though we have discussed calls for the elimination of all gifted and talented programs in cities like New York.  Lowell had a majority of white and Asian students and only two percent of its student body were African-Americans. Collins and other board members want to abolish the merit-based selection in favor of a blind lottery system.

Collins’ remarks from a San Francisco Board of Education public meeting in October 13, 2020 were only recently posted by Sophie Bearman of San Francisco’s online publication Here/Say Media. In the meeting, she declared “When we talk about merit, meritocracy and especially meritocracy based on standardized testing…those are racist systems.… You can’t talk about social justice, and then say you want to have a selective school that keeps certain kids out from the neighborhoods that you think are dangerous.”

Collins made the statement in support of a resolution, entitled “In Response to Ongoing, Pervasive Systemic Racism at Lowell High School,” authored by Collins, Board President Gabriela Lopez, Commissioner Matt Alexander, and Student Delegates Shavonne Hines-Foster and Kathya Correa Almanza.

Newsweek quotes at least one Lowell teacher who objects to the elimination of the school as a place for top performing students and said that the system is blind on race and designed to reward “the hardest working kids in terms of academics.”

Gifted programs and elite academic schools are designed to allow students to reach their full academic potential with other students performing at the highest level of math and other disciplines. It is often difficult for such students to reach that potential in conventional settings. Teachers have to keep their classes as a whole moving forward in subject areas. That often means that academically gifted children are held back by conventional curricula or lesson plans. Those students can actually underperform due to boredom or the lack of challenging material. Many simply leave the public school system.  Moreover, students tend to perform better with students progressing at their similar level. Teachers can then focus on a lesson plan and discussions that are tailored to students at a similar performance level.

Moving to a lottery system at Lowell would obviously convert the school into a conventional academic program.  We can debate the value of having such schools to cater to the most advanced students. I believe such schools are important components to public education. We not only reward students for their considerable academic achievement but guarantee all students that they can progress as far as their interests and capabilities will take them. These schools are the source of pride in many cities in showing the full potential of high school students in science and other fields.

I do not agree that meritocracy is inherently racist. Students of all races benefit from such schools. While there is clearly less diversity at Lowell, the best solution is not to eliminate such programs but to work harder in the earlier grades to allow minority students to excel (and ultimately gain admission to such programs).

There is a need for meritocracy in academia and society at large. Indeed, such scores offer race-neutral systems for advancement. While subjects like math have been declared racist (and a University of Rhode Island professor recently declared all of science, statistics, and technology to be “inherently racist”), these are fields that allowed many intellectuals of color to advance.

We have to have systems of objective comparison in the ability and performance of students in academia. We use such tests and scores for the selection of students admissions to college and society uses such systems for business and professional advancement. The world is becoming a far more competitive place. Other countries are not abandoning meritocracy. They are pushing their most most talented students to achieve even more in specialized programs and advanced courses. We need to do the same if we are going to remain competitive as a nation. Eliminating elite programs like Lowell removes an opportunity not just for these students but our society as a whole.  These are some of the best developing minds in our country and they should be allowed to reach their full potential through special schools and programs.

I have been a huge supporter of public schools my whole life. While my parents could afford private schools, they helped form a group to keep white families in the public school system in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. They wanted their kids to be part of a diverse school environment. I also sent my kids to public schools for the same reason. I view our public schools as important parts of our society as we shape future citizens.

This efforts in San Francisco and New York will only encourage more families to leave our public school systems and potentially increase rather than reduce problems of diversity in our student bodies. The need to achieve greater diversity in top public high schools is real and needs to be addressed. However, the solution is to create better educational opportunities for younger students to lift them up rather than lower (or eliminate) entry standards at these schools. That is certainly harder than just imposing a lottery system for all schools but it preserves the opportunity for high advancement for students of all races.

433 thoughts on ““We Cannot Mince Words”: San Francisco Education Official Denounces Meritocracy As Racist”

  1. Fortunately, Turley works for Fox News, well known for fact checking all utterances by it’s personnel, as well as having the highest ratings for misinformed viewers in America.,

    1. So lets address credibility.

      I asked for a su ccessful government program.
      You offered ESP – which you claimed was a leftist program.
      You provided no evidence it is leftist – and the description of the program is not particularly leftist.
      The gist of it seems to be – study like asians.

      In trials ESP appears effective, yet broad adoption has not improved minority calculus performance.
      You wanted to fight about HS calculus education – which is uncommon in public schools, uncommon among whites,
      and rare among minorities – particularly blacks. we can quibble over what is “offered”, the FACT is few students are graduating with Calculus.

      If it makes you feel better – you MIGHT have found a slightly inaccurate statement of mine – that is if I trust you to quote me accurately – which I do not. But at the crux of the debate – YOU FAILED.

      I personally have no bone to pick with ESP – though I would note that as promissing as the data was in one paragraph of the two reports you cite. In the real world applied broadly it does not work.

      This is not an uncommon failure. One of the reasons that private schools outperform public ones is they cherry pick the best teachers and the best students. Starting from that point – everything succeeds.
      We know from Jaime Escalante(stand and deliver) – and myriads of other anecdotal evidence – such as your ESP demo programs that minority students can perform as well and even better that whites.
      So the problem is not with the students. It is with the schools.
      nd ye
      We can debate WHY – but the failure is self evident.

      You carped on me for using anecdotal evidence – failing to realize that your own ESP data – as well as the Jaime Escalante example I cited are also “annecdotal evidence”. Clearly in small scale – ESP worked, as did Jaime Escalante. And yet neither scaled.

      I would suggest to you that it probably is NOT the program or method that produced success, but the quality of the teachers.
      And like it or not that is NOT a fixable problem.

      I have told you before that skill like many other things follows a pareto distribution.
      There is no magical way to make most teachers into Jaime Escalante.

      This BTW is ONE of many reasons why MOST government and left programs fail.

      So who is more credible ?

      I am not here to defend Fox or Trump or Turley.

      But your OPINION on the credibibility of others has no value.

      And the fact that you are NOT a fox viewer or a Trump supporter increases the average credibility of Fox viewers and Trump supporters.

      Regardless, I will bet that the average Trump supporter and Fox viewer knows many things that you do not.
      Such as some very solid economic truths.

      Reducing oil and gas production will make prices go up.
      There is no consequential problem with human CO2.
      Pipelines transport oil and gas cheaper and more safely.
      Green jobs will not flourish until green energy can deliver more of something that people on their own chose to value.
      The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

      “Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.”
      ― Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy
      A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers.

      What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.
      A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available
      A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy.

      I expect most Fox viewers accept most of these things.

      Are their any that you accept ?

  2. I want to see this feature in Black History Month in the next few years.

    Why do you want a young woman doing something foolish to feature in a discussion of history?

    1. She’s part of Black History, just like the fact that 54% of the murders in this country are committed by less than 13% of the population.

      1. She isn’t any more a part of ‘black history’ than Florida Man is a part of American history. She’s a private citizen who has had a self-inflicted mishap. That’s material for The Funny Times, not a history publication.

        1. I have been told it is not a time to mince words.

          This is what you get when you ram ‘diversity’ and affirmative action onto institutions. She serves as an example and belongs in Black History like Sheila [Houston we have a problem, I thought we landed on Mars] Jackson Lee.

          Yes, let us destroy demanding schools so can fill them with people who put Gorilla Glue in their hair.

          Not mincing words. History is stories and this is a story.

          1. No, she doesn’t belong in history. She’s a private citizen who had a mishap for which she herself is responsible. We have 330 million people in this country, and that sort of thing happens thousands of times every day. There’s a recurrent cable series called Untold Stories of the E.R. chock full of these tales. They’re only part of history when an accident of some sort generates a problem of public significance, and even then, they’re strictly a sideshow.

            As for Sheila Jackson Lee, tell me how many back bench members of Congress you’re likely to encounter in history texts?

            1. It is odd that you think that history is confined to history ‘texts’. That is simple-minded academic elitism.

              Barbara Tuchman was reviled by professional academics yet her accounts continue to entertain and inform while her detractors have been forgotten and gone to dust because most of their works weren’t very good.

              The exceptions are people like Simon Schama who truly loves history and writes history like ‘Citizens’ to be read. Thomas Carlyle, also a great historian once said something like what we become depends on what we read after the professors have finished with us.

              I don’t care about your ‘texts’ or the Academic Priests who are now destroying the universities.

        2. Or perhaps you think the only thing allowed in Black History are encomiums to how wonderful they are.

          Is the history of Europeans or Asians like that?

          1. You’re a lout with a bad attitude.

            Studying the agricultural development of the United States, the development of certain industrial sectors, and the development of popular music is a way you study the black population from a historical perspective. If you focus on the black population itself, you’re more in the realm of historical sociology. There are also microhistories – particular communities at particular points of time.

            1. Lout with a bad attitude? Is that redundant? Doesn’t a bad attitude come with being a lout?

              Check your texts.

              Oddly, this lout doesn’t feel compelled to read history according to your prescriptions.

              But, does the usual Black History Month pablum meet your standards?

  3. If unqualified students are admitted into advanced math classes, they will fail, and this will be far more of a setback to them and to their “identity” group than any failure to be admitted. If, in the worst case, the contents of such programs are modified to account for a lower quality of student, this would adversely affect the better students.

    1. By the way, I doubt she has much of a products liability case. The Gorilla Glue was not used in a manner intended by the manufacturer. I think there have been similar, failed product liability issues when men have used vacuum cleaners for masturbation without knowing sharp fan blades were spinning a few inches inside the orifice and thus sustained injuries at the critical moment.

  4. Apparently Tom Brady has been called racist for winning the Super Bowl during Black History Month.


    Should have let the black guy win, I guess, because black football players are underprivileged.

    Math is racist. Grammar is racist. Lawns are racist. Pets are racist. Showing up on time for work is racist. You know the rest. They are making convincing arguments for being racist. It appears to be a good thing. And don’t ‘ax’ me why.

  5. I told you she was incredibly stupid. Shirley Jackson Lee says an AR-15 weighs as much as 10 boxes and fires .50 caliber bullets.

    Ten boxes of what? Boxes are not a unit of weight or mass.

    An AR-15 does not remotely fire a .50 caliber bullet which is a half inch in diameter. It is typically a .223 caliber which is slightly more than two-tenths of an inch in diameter.

    Hard to believe we allow people this stupid and ignorant to have anything to do with making laws.


    1. On the other hand, she gives an idea what went wrong with ‘Reconstructuion’ after the Civil War.

      1. Huh? A woman from Houston with personality problems tells you ‘what went wrong’ with a state of affairs 4-5 generations ago?

          1. Thanks for the update. I really needed to know the the first name of that idiot.

            I wonder what she will do when she finds out she is named after two famous Confederate generals?

          1. There’s no indication she has intellectual deficits (as opposed to be ignorant of certain matters, which we all are). She passed the bloody bar exam. She’s well known as being a terror to work for.

            1. “There’s no indication she has intellectual deficits”

              She is from Houston and she asked for a photo of Americans saluting the flag on Mars.

              That is an indication of sheer stupidity almost on the scale of worrying about Guam tipping over.

              Then, perhaps you can tell me how much ten boxes weigh. I am not familiar with that unit of measurement Sheila uses.

              1. That is an indication of sheer stupidity almost on the scale of worrying about Guam tipping over.

                No, that is an indication she’s a dingbat, a common feminine type.

                1. Art: “that is an indication she’s a dingbat” [instead of being stupid].

                  That’s an odd evasion.

                  Dingbat definition – “a stupid or eccentric person.”

                  So we agree. Sheila is a stupid person.

                  I don’t think her being a woman has much to do with it.

                  Hank Johnson who worries that Guam will tip over is in that range of stupidity and he is male.

                  It wouldn’t surprise me if both put Gorilla Glue in their hair.

        1. I waited to see if you would get it. During Reconstruction about 1,517 blacks were in various state legislatures. I used to wonder how they did. If Sheila and Hank and some of the rest of the moderns are anything to go by, those in the South were probably much worse, lacking as many were in the way of education.

          1. Again, your reference to Reconstruction is dumb. There were all kinds of problems with Reconstruction. Whining about blacks in state legislatures is chasing cockroaches on your windowsill when you’ve got a big pink elephant in the middle of the living room. . (And see C. Vann Woodward on complaints about Reconstruciton-era legislatures; all the complaints apply at least as much to the Southern Redeemer legislatures).

  6. Given the sheer volume of logorrhea that comes out every single time they open their mouths, I beg to submit that they most certainly can mince words, and need not fear running out of them.

  7. Why not they have no reason for anything else they do as they flush taxpsyer money down the socialist toilet.

    1. Imagine how humiliated an average student will be once lottery’d into an advanced class. Why not just put a 6th grade student in a college prep course and let’s see how long it takes for that student to self-destruct.

  8. “While subjects like math have been declared racist”
    As,of today, 2 + 2 = 9..
    The above idea advises that is it much better to use gasoline than to pay for it.

  9. In its misguided attempt to win the SJW Olympics, Lowell High School will become just another mediocre CA school. This is because those driving this self destruction do not understand the difference between disparity of outcome, and racism.

    This punishes students who worked hard and sacrificed in order to earn top grades. Those who honed their mind have not stolen anything from anyone.

    As soon as Lowell High School moves away from a merit-based admissions system to a straight lottery, they will be filled with average students. They will have to close or dismiss curriculum designed for top students, and instead be just like every other high school. You can’t pluck an average student and plunk them into honors classes. It is also indescribably boring for an honors student to sit in an unchallenging class where raising your hand is frowned upon by your peers.

    The reason why so many Asians attend Lowell High is because their family culture, on average, places enormous pressure and focus on academic excellence. By contrast, families of any race that discourage academics produce poorly performing students. Do board members believe that such emphasis has no bearing on the children raised in this environment?

    The obvious solution is to lift people up, not cut the legs out from under the successful.

    The root cause of racial disparities in education are the high rate of single motherhood with the attendant poor outcomes of offspring, high crime creating a draw to join gangs for safety, that crime bleeding into the school grounds where the halls are a dangerous place for a kid to be, lack of value placed on education in the home, intense peer pressure to slack off or skip school (where studying is foolishly labeled “acting white” just like meritocracy is considered racist), lack of parental involvement or supervision. In addition, one of the subcultures of black communities glorifies criminal behavior, fighting cops, and going to jail.

    The most tragic aspect of the above is the intergenerational cycle of it all. A parent who graduates high school barely able to read and has a kid by 18 with a man who abandons them is statistically unlikely to raise that child to study hard and wait to get pregnant until marriage. How can you pass on a successful family culture if you don’t know it yourself? That’s the crux of the problem. If most black families behaved like Asian families, the disparities would be gone in a single generation, as would most of the crime.

    But SJWs don’t want to deal with these very thorny issues. They just want to lower the bar, which sends a discouraging message to these kids that they can’t meet the same standard as everyone else. It’s just not true, but they keep hearing this message from the Left. Don’t study hard, that’s white. Don’t wait to have kids until you’re married that’s white. How about saying, that’s Asian, and look how well they’re doing?

    1. The Left is doing poor blacks a terrible disservice claiming that all of their problems are due to racism.

      How much more effective would it have been if they held up examples of exceptional, successful black people to emulate. Why is there a Black History Month? There is no Asian or white history month. Why not ensure that students learn about notable black people all year long? Why not ensure that contemporary successful black people are interviewed with regularity, with emphasis on what they did to attain success? Also include interviews with people of all races. Show kids, at an early age, what is possible with focus, drive, and hard work. And then ensure that tutoring and other academic support is available.

      Black kids shouldn’t have the bar lowered. Once it’s lowered, they keep lowering it – to get into a competitive high school, university, and get a job. Before too long, this constant lowering of standards for one particular race will indelibly stamp them as inferior. This is wrong, and a stab in the back to the black students out there who have worked very hard to earn their grades and their admissions. They will be painted with the same brush.

      Struggling black students should have their education gaps fixed, so that they leap over that bar all on their own merit. That is the only way for lifetime success.

      1. We don’t need a white history month because we get white history year-round.

        1. Is studying George Washington and the founding of the nation white history?
          Is studying Albert Einstein and relativity Jewish history?
          Is studying Watson and Crick discovering the chemical structure of DNA Christian history?
          Is the study of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and their philosophy white history?

          What to you is the study of black history? Why should it be segregated from other history? There are many other histories. We are a western nation so we study those things most pertinent to the nation and supplement it with world history and other nations. We spend substantial time studying slavery, the Civil War and Civil rights.

          Are you advocating tribalism and that we segregate our studies into every tribe that might exist in America?

          Do not parents have the obligation to teach their children about their personal religion and history?

          1. IQ is a proxy but I don’t think in life knowing the actual number actually accomplishes much of anything. Yes, it is somewhat of a predictor as to the ability of one to cope with complex issues but that is relatively apparent from other sources. Other things will be more important in the relative success or failure of the individual.

        2. Except that we do not.

          it is self evident that public education wastes educational resources ideologically indoctrinationg students rather than educating them.

          Only 43% of HS grads know when the Civil War was within 25 years.

          25% of HS grads beleive that Columbus came to america after 1750

          Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

          Only 60 percent of all U.S. students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950.

          28% know what is the supreme law of the land?

          26% know What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

          27% know What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?

          10% know How many justices are there on the Supreme Court?

          Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? 14 percent

          What ocean is on the east coast of the United States? 61 percent

          What are the two major political parties in the United States? 43 percent

          We elect a U.S. senator for how many years? 11 percent

          Who was the first President of the United States? 23 percent

          Who is in charge of the executive branch? 29 percent

      2. We live in the least racist country in the world at the lest racist moment in time, except tomorrow.

        It is amazing that Social Media is censoring conservatives who are far more accurate regarding facts while the left rants total nonsense and expects everyone to accept it as fact.

        Racism is not in the top 20 most important factors impacting black families today. There are numerous studies demonstrating that.

        It is one thing that left posters here are complete idiots hurling accusations of racism, white supremecy, …. but even prominent educated leaders on the left do this all time.

        A prominent ACLU attorney has repeatedly accused JK Rowling of being a white supremacist because she beleives has questioned allowing MTF Transgendered girls in girls Title 9 sports. Ignoring the merits of the issue – there is not a racial issue in that debate – how is that racism ?

        It is unlikely we will see much new research challenging leftist dogma – no researcher would dare do so. Publishing results that offend the left is heresey to be punished by public burning.

        What problems we have in this country are not going to be solved by lying about them. They are not going to be solved by censoring information that you do not like. They are not going to be solved by government indoctrination.

  10. Sir, your article concludes, stating: “The need to achieve greater diversity in top public high schools is real and needs to be addressed.” This is where you are mistaken. Preponderantly meritocratic systems are the only ones guaranteed to advance a society socially, economically and tecnologically. Meriticracy does not lead to diversity but to elite specialization (like the best sports team). The leftist buzzword “diversity” signifies little more than anti-white animus and the sooner we stop using it, and pandering to grotesque left-wing ideologies, the sooner the west can begin to once again harness its many potentialities.

    1. That’s been my point for years. One thing is diversity occurring as a natural consequence of changing demographics and another is diversity as a goal in itself. There is no evidence, none, that racial diversity is in itself a motor for advancement, except for diversity of thought and knowledge. In fact the most advanced nations in the world (in North America, or the Western European countries, Japan, South Korea, etc) have been pretty homogenous throughout most of their existence.
      The only diversity schools should pursue and encourage is diversity of skills…society doesn’t want everybody to be doctors because we also need engineers and architects, accountants, managers, lawyers, plumbers and electricians, pilots, artists and athletes, teachers, etc.
      I don’t know what is now, but when I studied I couldn’t care less if the person next to me was white,black, yellow or Martian. All I cared about was taking notes from that fast talking professor. It didn’t do any good or any bad, neither improve or degrade my education to have “diverse” students around. It was the lessons learned what really served in my professional life.
      USA has got to stop it with this race obsession stupidity. Let individuals be individuals.

  11. Diversity (i.e. color judgment) is a sincerely held dogmatic belief of the Progressive Church/Synagogue/Mosque/Temple/Office/Chamber/Clinic and other ostensibly “secular” sects under the Pro-Choice selective, opportunistic, relativistic (e.g. “ethics”) quasi-religion that denies individual dignity, individual conscience, intrinsic value, and normalizes color blocs (e.g. “people of color” or identity defined by skin color), color quotas, and affirmative discrimination… Progress is an unqualified monotonic process: one step forward, two steps backward.

    1. ” Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome ! ” In this case, average outcome is requiring diminished opportunity! BRILLIANT! Statistics showed an overall decreased student performance when busing lowered grade averages . . . .
      How long before students ( and others for that matter ) are required to wear an official uniform and hair style . . nothing to allow any individualism to stand out from the herd? Will ‘ left-handed ‘ students be held back until they become ‘ right-handed ‘ ?

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