Campus Reform | Stanford Law launches 'Youth Justice Lab' to address racism in public schools, combat ‘insidious’ meritocracy

Stanford Law launches 'Youth Justice Lab' to address racism in public schools, combat ‘insidious’ meritocracy

Stanford launched a “Youth Justice Lab” to bring antiracism to public schools.

The project believes that special education, advanced placement programs, and other “meritocratic” grading policies are “insidious” forms of segregation.

Stanford University’s law school launched a project to address racism in public schools.

According to Stanford Today, the “Youth Justice Lab” — an initiative of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice — will allow students from the Graduate School of Education and Stanford Law School to “develop specific policy and research interventions that can counter the racial disparities perpetuated by school programs,” including “racially segregated” advanced placement programs, special education programs, and school discipline policies.

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The Youth Justice Lab’s website elaborates by claiming that these “insidious” programs — as well as other “meritocratic” testing and grading policies — indicate that “public schools have created and perpetuated racial hierarchy, despite the promise that schools should help all children achieve the American Dream.”

“The Lab aims to critically analyze the structural racism in our schools and asks what would an anti-racist public education look like?” continues the Justice Lab’s website. 

To answer these questions, students will “explore the history, current landscape, and racialized consequences” of “the educational caste system created by student assignment to various public schools, including selective schools, traditional schools, continuation and alternative schools, and court schools.” They will also evaluate the effects of “high-stakes standardized testing for student placement and assignment purposes.”

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Students will work alongside Public Counsel, a pro-bono law firm that deals with educational issues, and IntegrateNYC, a nonprofit that develops “youth leaders who repair the harms of segregation and build authentic integration and equity.”

The Youth Justice Lab delivers its programming through a three-unit course offered from January to March of 2021.

This course is one of many efforts from top universities to bring anti-racism into primary and secondary schools.

As Campus Reform recently reported, a professor at Yale University is training local teachers to avoid “colorblindness” in K-12 education.

[RELATED: Yale prof decries 'colorblindness' in K-12 education]

Campus Reform reached out to Stanford University and the Youth Justice Lab for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft