Stanford's New Research Lab Calls out Causes of America's 'Racial Hierarchy': Public Education and Ostensible Meritocracy

AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

It’s a confusing time.

Society appears to be fighting racism for all its worth.

But how and where do you fight, if virtually everything’s been declared racist?

And if institutions are the ones announcing the omnipresence of institutional racism, aren’t they fingering themselves? But if they believe racism is racist, how can they still be instituting it?

Amid the mess comes recent discoveries by California-based Stanford Law School.

As reported by The Daily Wire, new research hub “Youth Justice Lab” is a policy research center as well as a three-unit law course.

The school website puts it thusly:

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and calls for police reform, the United States is in the midst of a national reckoning that is forcing us to confront systemic racism and the institutions that perpetuate anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

And here’s a profound find: American “racial hierarchy” can be monumentally blamed on public education.

Perhaps no institution has reproduced racial hierarchy in the U.S. more than our public education system.

Wanna know how? Well, part of the problem is so-called “meritocracy”:

From state-sponsored racial segregation of schools to the more subtle, but no less insidious racially segregated academic placements (e.g., special education, advanced placement) to exclusionary school discipline policies to ostensibly “meritocratic” testing and grading policies and beyond, public schools have created and perpetuated racial hierarchy, despite the promise that schools should help all children achieve the American Dream.

Can all that be fixed?

Youth Justice Lab seems willing to try.

Its method of attack: “antiracism.”

The Lab aims to critically analyze the structural racism in our schools and asks what would an anti-racist public education look like?

As a reminder, per CNN, antiracism means renouncing the following microaggressions:

  • “Don’t blame me. I never owned slaves.”
  • “All lives matter.”
  • “I’m colorblind; I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow, green or purple.”

Stanford’s got a plan of attack:

Specifically, partnering with Public Counsel and IntegrateNYC, the Youth Justice Lab will explore the history, current landscape, and racialized consequences of:

  • The educational caste system created by student assignment to various public schools, including selective schools, traditional schools, continuation and alternative schools, and court schools
  • High-stakes standardized testing for student placement and assignment purposes
  • Other topics may be covered, depending on client need and resource availability.

Speaking of meritocracy, where social justice is concerned, another West Coast entity’s been hard at work.

As I covered in May, for the sake of racial righteousness, the University of California’s board of regents voted unanimously — 23-0 — to dump the SAT and the ACT.

Across the country, people are doing their part — Boston Public Schools recently suspended advanced learning classes due to a disturbing number of the participants being white and Asian.

Back to Youth Justice Lab, perhaps the crew’s just one great dismantling away from some real progress:

[T]he Lab will work with experts to develop specific policy and research interventions that aim to dismantle the systemic racism and interlocking oppressions built into those educational policies and practices. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to these issues by enrolling students from the Law School and the Graduate School of Education. Students in the Lab will gather and analyze the relevant historical and empirical research, interview and consult with experts in the field, and draft a series of research and policy memos that summarize our research and provide recommendations.

I suppose time will tell — for better or worse.

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

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