More students refuse to state a race

Students’ refusal to state their race on forms is frustrating school officials, reports McClatchy News.

SACRAMENTO — About half of the 37 students in teacher Jeanne Kirchofer’s Laguna Creek High School classroom, who span nearly every combination of race and ethnicity, have joined the growing number of California studentsn who decline to state a race on official forms and tests.

“We shouldn’t be judged by our race,” said senior Jessica Mae Belcher, 17, whose roots are African and Cherokee. She prefers “none of the above” because “we’re all different, but we’re all the same, too.”

From 2006 to 2009, the number of Elk Grove Unified students whose race is listed as “multiple/no response” went from 500 to 6,200. Statewide, there’s been a 70 percent increase in “multiple/no response” students in three years.

The U.S. Department of Education wants school officials to “eyeball” students who decline to state and check a box for them, reports McClatchy.  In order to identify racial/ethnic achievement gaps, “the agency is pressing schools to identify all students by race in 2010-11 or face penalties.”

California doesn’t force school officials to assign a racial or ethnic identity to students who prefer to be uncategorized. At Laguna Creek High, some students say they prefer to identify as “American.”

Freshman Felicia Forte, 14, traces her roots to France, Africa and Jamaica. “In the end, we’re all American,” she said. “Race doesn’t matter. Especially on a test, it makes us feel like they’re going to categorize us or stereotype us.”

“Usually I bubble in ‘Mexican,’ but I don’t speak Spanish, so I feel weird about identifying as Mexican,” said Angellinda Gonzalez, 15. “But I’m still proud of my culture. We really shouldn’t judge people because they are a different race.”

More California college students also are declining to state a race or ethnicity. That may reflect a rise in multi-ethnic students — or a fear of discrimination. Nationally, “other” is up 25 percent on the SAT.

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  1. Good for them! I would like to see the advent of a checkbox marked “Human”. Then we can all check it and not worry about statistical analyses of our various backgrounds.

  2. If the Department of Education wants to identify all students by race, they should start issuing racial identity cards to be consistent. It shouldn’t be hard, as they clearly believe that it’s obvious enough that any teacher can do it.

  3. Hopefully this is an idea whose time is coming. For years I have declined to state race when I felt safe to do so. I think asking for race sends a powerful message – race matters. Apologists are quick to explain that no, race doesn’t matter. We just want to know. Well, sure, that takes care of the matter, doesn’t it? We have good intentions, so it’s okay. On second thought, no it’s not okay.

    It was decades ago that I began to resent that the census asks for race. (I also resent that the census asks for a lot more, but that is a different matter.) It is understandable, given our history, that we are a race obsessed culture. What is much less understandable is that so many people who consider themselves well-meaning and enlightened think this is okay.

  4. I always instruct my children to check “other” and write in human.

  5. Just what kind of penalties is the DOE talking about?

  6. Good for them!!

  7. Richard Nieporent says:

    Maybe they can find some former bureaucrats from the Apartheid South African government to identify the racial makeup of the students.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    Good for the students.
    Richard. South Africa used to have separate race courts devoted to balancing your geneaology to see you were in the the proper group in order to receive the proper discrimination.
    But some of those guys would be too old to move now.
    I understand the new mantra is that race is a social construct. Looks like the kids are deconstructing it and good for them.

  9. Cranberry says:

    It’s called assimilation. Given the presidential election of 2008, I think the citizens are ahead of the bureaucrats.

    Family income’s much easier to determine than “race.” Use that.

  10. Bill Leonard says:

    Hooray for the students. Any move is a good move if it helps stymie the ubiquitous bureaucrat who has a solution looking for a problem.

  11. Some years ago, the Los Angeles school district was trying to get teachers properly distributed by race. This often meant moving teachers away from schools where they had taught for years, and sometimes forced teachers to make long commutes.

    Naturally, some teachers — both black and white — figured out that they could stay where they were if they checked a different box on the form than the box they usually checked.

    Almost equally naturally, the school district, after learning about this, responded by setting up some kind of board to check on racial classifications.

    (I don’t recall how this ended, as it been some years since I read about this, probably in Commentary.)

  12. I’ve been assured that if the surveys/forms where they ask for race aren’t checked off…the school officials will do it for you…it’s all about the money!

  13. Absolutely good on them. It must kill the race obsessed bureaucrats that kids are too smart to fall for their BS.


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