City School’s Science Fair Project on Racial IQ Sparks Outrage

Diana Lambert and Anita Chabria, Sacramento Bee, February 10, 2018

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Students, parents and staff at C.K. McClatchy High School are upset over a science fair project by a student in its elite magnet program that questioned whether certain races of people lack the intelligence to handle the program’s academically challenging coursework.

Some of those outraged by the racially charged project say it points to larger problems: the lack of ethnic diversity in the school’s elite HISP program.

The project that started the controversy was titled “Race and IQ.” It raised the hypothesis: “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 project was put on display with others on Monday afternoon to be judged by a team of community members as part of the fourth annual Mini Science Fair. It was removed Wednesday morning after students, parents and staff complained. The science fair was open to students and parents.

The controversial project also included a bibliography and quotes from five books, one a text from 1904 called “The Essential Kafir” that argued South African blacks were intellectually inferior to whites. The term “kaffir” has since evolved into a racial slur in South Africa, where it is sometimes referred to as the “k-word.”

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She said the student who prepared the report has a history of making racist remarks in class. He is described by peers as a boy of Asian descent and a participant in the accelerated Humanities and International Studies program, or HISP. The Sacramento Bee did not speak to the student and is not identifying the minor.

The HISP program is designed to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity. Often, it includes alternative viewpoints on history. For example, one HISP student said that while learning about Christopher Columbus, students also learned about “the Indian genocide” and the perspective of Native Americans on white settlers.

The program currently has 508 students enrolled, including 12 African American students, 80 Hispanic students and 104 who are Asian, according to data provided by the district.

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The idea of race being tied to intelligence has a long and controversial history and is considered fringe. {snip}

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Many notions involving ethnicity and ability are popular with the so-called alternative right movement, and have gained increased prominence recently as topics of race and immigration have dominated national rhetoric. {snip}

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The McClatchy student tested his race and intelligence hypothesis by having a handful of unidentified teens of various races take an online intelligence test.

His report concluded that, “the lower average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and nonwhite 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.”

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[Chrysanthe] Vidal, who said she is one of four African American students in her senior class, said the incident reflects an undercurrent of racism at the school, although she hasn’t experienced blatant racism.

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