A science fair project at an elite high school magnet program has left both students and parents grossly offended. The experiment tests whether or not Blacks and other minority and ethnic groups are less intelligent than Whites and Northern Asians based solely on the IQ scores of students aged 15- to 16-years-old. Administrators are trying to figure out how this could have happened and are struggling to properly address the situation.
Sacramento Unified School District (SUSD) spokesman Alex Barrios has neither condemned nor condoned the McClatchy High School student’s submission because he says that his assignment could very well have fallen within the guidelines of the teacher’s instructions. Although the student’s project was offensive to many, the process of approving the topics as well as the decision to put it on display is also being scrutinized.
“We are looking into the appropriate response to a situation like this,” Barrios told The Sacramento Bee.
“We understand it concerns a lot of people and doesn’t reflect our culture here.”
While the message contained in the student’s project may not be a reflection of the school’s culture, it is ironic that the Humanities and International Studies Program (HISP) itself is not more diverse. The program reportedly boasts a total of 508 students where only 12 are Black, 80 are Hispanic, and 104 are Asian. This makes the HISP program over 60 percent White.
The project aims to justify the demographics of the HISP program with the assertion that there is a direct correlation between the IQ of the students, their respective races, and admission into the honors program. His hypothesis is what students, staff, and parents found disturbing.
“If the average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and Hispanics are lower than the average IQs of non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians, then the racial disproportionality in (HISP) is justified,” the student asserted.
The student’s conclusion drove the point home.
“The lower average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and non-White Hispanics means that they are not as likely as non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians to be accepted into a more academically rigorous program such as HISP. Therefore, the racial disproportionality of HISP is justified.”
Principal Peter Lambert, who is Black, emailed parents assuring them that the matter was being taken seriously. He stressed that the school is a place for inclusiveness and that steps were being taken to ensure that this spirit would be upheld.
“I want to be clear that at McClatchy High School we promote and embrace an inclusive environment and way of thinking which excludes any form of discrimination. Many of you have asked me what our school is doing in response to this incident. I want you to know we are taking this incident very seriously and we will be reviewing the incident and implementing all measures as appropriate to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students.”
But several students have said that this action was just a symptom of a larger, long-standing problem. The student whose submitted the controversial project has been described as a male teen of Asian descent who has made racially-inappropriate comments in the past. These honor students have also noted that they are separated from the rest of the student body and could benefit from a little integration into the rest of the campus. One student even told The Sacramento Bee that there isn’t even one Black student in her HISP class.
“My HISP class, I don’t think we have a single African American person in my class, which is kind of shocking consider(ing) HISP’s big deal is cultural expression. We have very little interaction with anyone outside our classes. I definitely think we would benefit at some level to being exposed to a community outside our circle.”
Superintendent Jorge Aguilar stated that a thorough investigation into this incident will be conducted. He has vowed to ensure that every specialty program in the district is reviewed for diversity compliance so that all students have an opportunity to further their academic skills and potential.