SF Board Of Education Commissioner: Merit Is ‘An Inherently Racist Construct Designed And Centered On White Supremacist Framing’


In a series of social media posts this week, a commissioner for the San Francisco Board of Education declared that “merit” is “an inherently racist construct designed and centered on white supremacist framing.” She added, “We racially code our world based on implied beliefs that privilege whiteness.”

In the tweet thread, Commissioner Alison Collins first referenced a paper that “analyses how high-stakes, standardised testing became the policy tool in the U.S. that it is today and discusses its role in advancing an ideology of meritocracy that fundamentally masks structural inequalities related to race and economic class,” and also references radical-leftist pseudo-historian Howard Zinn.

The paper also states that high-stakes, standardized testing arose out of “racist and classist legacies”:

The historical roots of high-stakes, standardised testing in racism, nativism, and eugenics raises a critical question: why is it that, now over 100 years after the first standardised tests were administered in the United States, we have virtually the same test-based achievement gaps along the lines of race and economic class? Given the historical origins of standardised testing in the social efficiency movement, which sought to educate students according to perceived future social roles, IQ testing, and the eugenics movement, there is no reason to believe that these testing systems could shake off their racist and classist legacies so easily.

Collins tweeted:

Please be mindful that “merit” is an inherently racist construct designed and centered on white supremacist framing that justifies who IS and ISN’T worthy of education, safety, justice, empathy… basically humanity. When we say some kids “deserve” access to a quality education, we are also inherently saying some don’t. When we say some schools are “academic” we are saying others aren’t. When we say some cultures value education, we are saying some don’t.

She then buttressed her argument by referencing left-wing critical race theory:

These are what folks who are experts in critical race theory call binary thinking. Black vs. White, good vs. bad, safe vs unsafe… These are all ways we racially code our world based on implied beliefs that privilege whiteness. This is also known as the “white frame.” And, yes, this even applies at a majority Asian-American school. The Model Minority Myth only exists within the context of a continuum that pits people of color against one another yet leaves the status quo unchecked.

Fundamentally the issue of selective enrollment is about access and resources, not justice. In this way “merit” is not about fairness, it’s just another sorting mechanism to justify who does or doesn’t deserve access to resources.

According to the San Francisco Unified School District, Collins was elected to the Board of Education in November, 2018. Prior to that, she worked as a community organizer for over 20 years. The website notes that her father became one of the first black professors at UCLA, and that she cofounded the SF Families Union, Parent advocacy organization. She obtained a Masters degree in education from San Francisco State University.

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