The SAT: Public Spirited or Preserving Privilege?

Julian Weissglass (
Wed, 15 Apr 1998 08:55:59 -0700

Dear folks,

The pervasiveness of racism in the United States is clear to most people of
color. Any white person who has listened to their stories gets a glimpse of
the reality of racism. One of the key privileges for me as a white leader
in "equity work"has been to learn about how racism affects people. It
hasn't been pleasant learning about it, but I am better for knowing what
the reality is.

Racism operates behind a veil of pretense, denial, and occluded memories.
White people forget how they bought into the system because it is so
painful. Our schools, media, and corporations strengthen the veil by
denying us accurate information about U.S. history or the lives of people
of color, distracting us into consumption and addictions, entertaining us,
and interfering with our natural processes of recovering from our hurts in
this area.

One area that has concerned me is how tests are used to maintain an
educational systems that continues to deny equal educational opportunity to
the young people. All testing and assessment practices are embedded in
people's assumptions about human beings, learning and the nature of socity.
As you know I've been trying to raise these issues in my work by talking
about the racist and classist history of IQ and SAT testing. I have found
that hardly anybody knows about it.

In late February I read an article in Education Week ( a weekly education
newspaper) by the president of the College Board saying "The development
of the SAT was public-spirited. The intent was to increase access to
first-rate higher education."

To me this was a prime example of denial and pretense. So I was motivated
to write a reply. It appears as a Commentary in their April 15th issue.
The title is "The SAT: Public Spirited or Preserving Privilege?" You can
look for it in the newspaper or on the Web

I find it encouraging that Education Week will publish an article that
contains a description of the racist history of the SAT and questions its
use today. I hope you will fins it useful in your equity work.

Julian Weissglass
Director, Equity in Mathematics Education Leadership Institute
University of California, Santa Barbara, Ca 93106

Phone: 805-893-7722
Fax: 805-893-2190

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