‘Occupy Education’ Debates the Gates Foundation (and Wins) | Common Dreams

17 Mar

WTF?  And I thought I knew something about the history of education! ….djm

As Wayne Au explains in his book, Unequal By Design, standardized testing entered the public schools in the early 1900s as a way to graft scientific management models used in assembly line production onto the classroom by Taylorists and eugenicists—the pseudo scientists that believed intelligence is genetic and that whites were biologically superior to other races or ethnic groups. Au writes,

“Looking back to its origins in the eugenics movement, Standardized testing provided the technological apparatus for the functioning of the production model of education….It is no coincidence that I.Q testing, eugenics and standardized testing all become prominent during the same period….”

The point I made to the Gates foundation policy wonks was this: While they claim to be part of a 21st century civil rights movement for education—advocating policies they insist are specifically designed to close the achievement gap—the standardized tests they demand were designed by racist pseudo-scientists of the early 20th century. As NAACP founder W.E.B. DuBois wrote,

“It was not until I was long out of school and indeed after the (first) World War that there came the hurried use of the new technique of psychological tests, which were quickly adjusted so as to put black folk absolutely beyond the possibility of civilization.”

via ‘Occupy Education’ Debates the Gates Foundation (and Wins) | Common Dreams.


The SAT exam, for example, was developed by Carl Bringham—the Army psychologist and racist eugenicist who used WWI data to declare that whites born inside the United States were the most intelligent of all peoples and that immigrants were genetically inferior. Contrary to the assertions of corporate education reformers who claim to be crusaders against the status quo in education, there is nothing innovative about advocacy for standardized testing; it is merely the repackaging of eugenics for the “post racial” era where it is passé to espouse racist ideas. Sadly, American society today—from the prisons to the schools—is dominated by institutional racism. The purpose of standardized tests are the same as they were then: to categorize, sort, and rank black students, students of color, and working class kids at the bottom, while demonstrating the intellectual superiority of the wealthy and white students who score better on the tests. However, that white students score better on the tests is not a comment on their superior aptitude to students of color and low-income students, but rather of their advantages—private tutoring, books in the home, parents with more time to read to their kids, coming to school healthy and more focused, and tests that are created to reflect the values and norms of an affluent, white society.


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