In Part 1, we showed that blacks are significantly under-performing academically, compared with whites. Next, the fearless inquirer will ask, is this disparity due to a genetic difference in innate intelligence, or is it due to environmental factors? It is highly politically incorrect to even ask this question. However, if we don’t address this question head-on, it will linger unspoken.
And this question matters a great deal. If the problem is genetic, then we’re doomed to a real gap in achievement between the races until the end of time. However, if the problem is environmental, then at least it is possible to do something about it, even if there are no easy fixes.
Fortunately, there is very good evidence that the problem is environmental. Blacks have about the same innate potential for “smarts” as white people do, and here is the evidence:
First, we have examples of schools that have gotten excellent results with black students. According to Thomas Sowell, “Back in 1899, in Washington, D. C., there were four academic public high schools– one black and three white. In standardized tests given that year, students in the black high school averaged higher test scores than students in two of the three white high schools.”
This school, called The M Street School and then renamed Dunbar High School, had no entrance exam, and served many economically disadvantaged black students. “Over the entire 85-year history of academic success of this school, from 1870 to 1955, most of its 12,000 graduates went on to higher education. This was very unusual for either black or white high-school graduates during this era.”
In the days when Dunbar High School was achieving such high standards, it was a very poorly funded school. Today, it is a ghetto school with very high spending per student, yet very poor results.
Thomas Sowell has collected many additional examples of high-performing schools serving low-income black students. The common thread is that they required the students to work hard and be disciplined. They used tough mainstream curricula, not Afro-centric ones.
The fact that these examples exist conclusively proves that black under-achievement cannot be attributed to genetics. It also proves that it’s possible for a well-run school to get good results with black students even in poor neighborhoods. It also proves that societal racism and “white privilege” cannot prevent blacks from doing well in school. The Dunbar School was wildly successful with low-income black students during a time when racism was a terrible problem, a time when racial discrimination was legal and common.
As an aside, there is no evidence that the Social Justice Warriors have a solution for black under-achievement, and there is some evidence that the SJW program is detrimental to blacks. For example, the school system in Edina, Minnesota has embraced a Social Justice curriculum. Social Justice values are embedded in classes from kindergarten through 12th grade, and alternative viewpoints are squelched, as they always are when SJWs are fully empowered. And the results? “[B]y almost every metric, black student performance has dropped.”
Most K-12 schools are not as deeply corrupted by SJW activism as the ones in Edina. However, most universities are. And the gap between black and white cognitive skills increases in universities. This is the tragic damage that is done to black students when they are directed to focus on historical wrongs and political activism rather than acquiring cognitive skills.
Next, let’s look at additional environmental factors that effect black achievement levels, in Part 3.