In editorializing on the educational achievement gap between minorities and other Utah students, the Tribune has stated that “Utah leaders must make educational parity a priority” (“Utah’s high school grad rate still suffers achievement gap,” editorial, Dec. 29). A noble pursuit, perhaps, but one built on a shaky supposition, if not a mythology.
In 1969, Dr. Arthur Jensen of Berkeley wrote a famous essay on cognitive differences among racial groups, and concluded, among other things, that Head Start and other such programs would be unable to remedy the educational deficit of minorities due to measurable differences in cognitive abilities among racial groups.
It was a controversial thesis then and remains so today. Nonetheless, a recent federal study of the Head Start program has concluded that any initial benefits disappear completely by third grade. Forty-four years later, Dr. Jensen is still standing tall.
If Jensen got it right, placing undue emphasis on minority performance could tie the educational system in knots, if it hasn’t already. Among other potential problems is the further dumbing down of the curriculum and placing unattainable expectations on already-stressed teachers to raise minority scholastic performance.
The Tribune is probably too enmeshed in minority advocacy to address this issue honestly, so perhaps they should just drop the subject altogether.
Darrell H. Mensel