A relatively new member of the Board, Michael Kundu (elected in November), had sent an e-mail to another Board member and the executive director of teaching and learning for Marysville, about the work of a psych professor at the University of Western Ontario as "evidence that certain ethnic groups possess biological advantages and disadvantages compared to others, in areas including brain sizes and intelligence levels."
The Board member, Michael Kundu, said in the e-mail:
"I think what is safe to draw from this is that there is a definitive factor played by racial genetics in intellectual achievement, but we, as a society, are striving to offset that foundation by increasing educational and social opportunities to 'offset' the racial achievement gap,"
Kundu wrote in the subject line "race and achievement (please circulate)."
He actually TOLD people to circulate the e-mail.
Naturally the NAACP and other groups were very upset. The head of the Snohomish county branch of the NAACP, Janice Greene, said:
Rushton "is a known white supremacist and that his pseudo-scientific theory has been effectively and consistently debunked by well regarded scientists."
The Board meeting where this was all aired went on for 4 1/2 hours as speaker after speaker came forward. (It did make me wonder if our School Board would allow that many speakers?) Many of the speakers talked about how expectations can affect minority achievement and how damaging this kind of "research" is.
How did Board members take this?
Board members Darci Becker and Cindy Erickson objected to the guest speakers' focus on race, with Erickson expressing concerns that students who didn't fall into certain categories could fall through the cracks, while Becker noted that her own child faces learning difficulties in spite of being white and economically comfortable.
"Diversity is not only about race," Becker said. "It feels like I'm being punished for being white."Kundu, at the meeting, said,
...that he doesn't consider biology to be the only cause of the achievement gap, but even as he acknowledged Rushton's racism, he defended genetics as one of a number of possible influences, along with a student's family dynamics and relative economic prosperity.
"We don't know what's behind the achievement gap," Kundu said. "If we did, every school district would be making significant progress in correcting it. No one has the formula for it. A lot of people have elements of the formula, but this achievement gap has been around for decades. I'm saying almost precisely the same things as a lot of you."
But he left before the end of the meeting, accusing the Board president of "mischaracterizing" the e-mails and another Board member left, saying the president wasn't supporting Kendu. The president's reply:
"I was offended," Crenshaw said after reading the e-mail aloud. "I think it's racist. I saw it as my responsibility to speak up and let you know that people who are making decisions about your children could be this ignorant.
Holy mackerel! Now there's a Board with problems.