Peter Sacks: The Sordid History of Human Intelligence Goes On

While the American educational establishment now shudders at the impolitic utterances of a Watson or Summers, the fact is that mainstream educators remain wedded to intelligence tests and their close cousins to designate intellectual talent and to sort academic stars from the also-rans, whether the arena is admitting toddlers to a private pre-school in Manhattan or freshmen to an elite college or university.

The testing industry, keenly aware of the sad history of intelligence testing and the tendency of its test users to draw their universal conclusions based on the tests, steers clear of marketing their exams as IQ tests, aptitude tests, or intelligence tests. Once known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, for instance, the SAT is now simply the SAT. Long forgotten is the test’s troubling kinship to the same IQ tests that once labeled Italians and Jews as feeble minded.

The Sordid History of Human Intelligence Goes On, Peter Sacks

What’s good for corporate globalization is good for Chicago and the rest of the nation – unless you live on the Black side of town. As the Color-Blind Curtain descends on American discourse, it has become taboo to even mention that map color-codes designating affluence or poverty coincide almost perfectly with the race of neighborhood residents. In the corporate celebration of Chicago’s “global” status, it becomes ever more necessary to gloss over the true facts of urban life in an industry-robbed nation. For every leap into hi-tech, hi-finance, and hi-living among the gentrifying rich, the places we once called “ghettos” fall deeper into misery and marginality.

White Washing Global Chicago, Paul Street

We’re not just trying to fight racism, of course, we are haunted by earlier, historical racisms. And racism shapes how we distribute economic and cultural capital. So the school system is shaped by the eugenicists of the first two or three decades of the century and the neighborhoods by the waves of migration driven by the end of slavery and reconstruction and Jim Crow.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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