Race:
Eliminating the "Race Gap" in Seattle Public Schools

[2002] The Seattle school district has set itself the goal of eliminating the achievement gap between white and minority kids by 2005. Here's my plan for what to do if you seriously want to eliminate the achievement gap.

When a baby is born, that newborn is taken from their parents and assigned to another random mother who gave birth the same day. Parents raise the kids that get swapped to them as their own. Suddenly, there is no longer any correlation between a parent's education, income, job, familial resources, age, or marital status and a child's race. After five years, these kids enter the public school system, and after 18 years, all the students in the system are "race random." The race gap disappears (but by 2020, not by 2005).

Since lots of kids in the Seattle public school system weren't born in Seattle, the kid-swapping scheme would have to be nationwide. Planetwide would be too much to hope for.

Short of eliminating the correlation between race and the various parental qualities that influence a child's education, imagining that one can eliminate the race gap is wishful thinking.

If you really need to eliminate the gap by 2005, you might be able to get close by screwing up white kids' educations, or by pressuring successful white students into switching to private schools. But even that's iffy. A less dramatic step of eliminating gifted programs and bolstering remedial education would narrow the gap but not eliminate it.

—JoT
June 2002

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