To gag, sack or oppose race tutor 1

March 17, 2006

As a black member of academic staff I believe that Frank Ellis should not lose his job but someone at Leeds University should seek to improve the quality of the research he engages in ('"I won't be silenced,' says race tutor", March 10).

To assess intellect, rather than the impact of social factors on intellect, intelligence tests designed to determine the intelligence of different races should be conducted before children start school, before the effects of teaching children from ethnic backgrounds occur. Birmingham Local Education Authority did such a study. It concluded in 2002 that black boys were second only to white middle-class children in achievement.

Although one might conclude that black boys are more intelligent than their poor white counterparts at the age of five, intelligence at the age of five is more a product of parenting than genetics. Is Ellis suggesting that poor white children should be sent down coalmines? Why does he go from intelligence to repatriation?

To assess intelligence based on race, a test needs to be devised that evaluates intelligence rather than familiarity with the environment or language of instruction. But there might be some questions asked if babies of a few weeks or months were tested.

The danger with such poor research is that there are many who will cite Ellis's findings as evidence for their views, thinking: "ees a yuniversiti professor, ee must be rite".

My view is that the quality of Ellis's research is poor. As a minimum, Leeds should get him to engage in a peer-review process before publication.

Carlton McDonald Derby University

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