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March 08, 2005

Education and segregation

Razib posted recently reporting on a controversy in the UK over comments by Trevor Phillips, the (black) Chairman of the official Commission for Racial Equality. Phillips was reported as recommending that black boys should be separately educated from whites to help remedy educational under-achievement.

Razib included a link to some recently published educational statistics. These are very interesting, and I will be analysing them more fully soon. The present post is just a quickie to correct some possible misunderstandings about what Phillips actually said, and some errors in my own initial comments on Razib's post.

First, Phillips's comments were made in a BBC TV documentary which was shown last night, a day or so after the fuss broke out. In the context of the documentary, Phillips's suggestions were more modest and tentative than the hype implied. What he said was just that we ought at least to consider teaching black boys separately for some lessons in some subjects. Moreover, in context his emphasis seemed to be more on separating boys from girls than blacks from whites. Indeed, I wondered if his reference to separate lessons for 'black boys' had simply been misunderstood, and that he wasn't suggesting a racial separation at all. However, if it was a misunderstanding, he doesn't seem to have corrected it.

In comments on Razib's post I also pointed out that Phillips claimed to be following an American precedent from a school in St Louis, where, according to the London Times, black boys were taught separately in a different classroom. Again, having seen the TV documentary, this account is misleading. The St Louis school was shown in the documentary, and there was no suggestion of deliberate racial separation, which could hardly arise as the school was 99% black already! The separation was only of boys from girls.

Finally, in my comments I said that the new education statistics seemed to include mixed-race categories for the first time. This is incorrect: the classification was introduced a few years ago. I will cover this in my further analysis.

Posted by David B at 02:43 AM