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How Los Angeles undercut its pathbreaking IHP project
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In late September I attended a memorial service for William M. Fitz-Gibbon, a retired public school teacher who had passed away a few weeks earlier, just short of his 78th birthday.

Without doubt Bill Fitz-Gibbon—“Fitz” to everyone—was the individual who had the greatest academic influence on my life, and my feelings were shared by many others, with hundreds of his former students from the last 35 years attending the service, held at Walter Reed Junior High in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. But what made his achievement so remarkable is that his decades of teaching had almost entirely been spent—with only mixed success—trying to climb up the down escalator of American education.

Unlike most MIT science graduates with exceptional IQs, he was drawn to teaching, first at private schools in Switzerland and England and later in suburban Los Angeles. He decided the existing system was inadequate for the most able and saw the need for an academically elite public school similar to Stuyvesant and Bronx Science in New York. So in 1971, with the approval of his principal and working with two other teachers, he established his major legacy, the Individualized Honors Program (IHP) at Reed in North Hollywood, taking in some 30 seventh graders, mostly from the local area but with some drawn from across Los Angeles.

When these students moved up to the eighth grade, a new group of seventh graders was enrolled, and this was repeated again the following year, with IHP now containing three teachers and close to 100 seventh through ninth graders, representing the tiniest sliver of the half-million-plus Los Angeles Unified School District. And I had become part of that sliver, entering IHP as a seventh grader in 1973.

Within a few years the program had begun to achieve impressive results, with eighth and ninth graders passing Advanced Placement exams for college credit, the same sort of APs normally taken only by the top 11th and 12th graders at other leading schools. Reed’s IHP became the first and only junior high school in America where a sizable fraction of the students were doing college-level work. The obvious next step—part of the plan from the very beginning—was to extend the program to the upper grades, thereby creating a public school whose achievements would rival those of any in the world. But over three decades it never happened, and therein lies a tale.

 

Although LA schools had never enjoyed the reputation for academic excellence found in some East Coast cities, they had also never faced the same sort of bitter racial struggles. The suburban Valley was entirely middle class and well over 90 percent white in those days, and although the 1965 Watts Riots had been horrifying, they had taken place 30 miles away over the hills—events you saw on television rather than experienced in daily life.

But the ideological tide of the late 1960s had begun seeping into the public education system, gradually replacing the post-Sputnik push for rigorous academic quality with a focus on “experimentation,” with “New Math” and “Whole Language,” while the benchmark for success shifted from excellence to “equity” or “diversity.”

Meanwhile, a long political battle over proposed forced busing for racial integration—possibly involving daily round-trips of 50 miles or more—became the absolute centerpiece of educational politics and provoked a white exodus from the schools. Unlike on the East Coast, virtually all ordinary Angelenos had traditionally attended local public schools, but over a decade or so a substantial fraction nervously switched to newly established private academies. By the time the busing proposals finally died in court, the LAUSD had suffered a huge loss of its previous middle-class enrollment, and the school board had become ideologically polarized to an extreme degree.

 

This was the landscape in fall 1984 when I returned to California as a Stanford grad student in theoretical physics, after having spent years away on the East Coast and in England. With the IHP track record now long and impressive, I believed the time might be right to create the intended high school, and working with the IHP teachers and a couple of other IHP alumni, we began the project.

At first, things went extremely well. IHP’s academic results were amazing, but had never been noticed by the media, so sending out a few simple press releases quickly attracted outstanding coverage, including a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times and a full-page article in Time.

With such strong media coverage, we gradually recruited an impressive advisory board of supporters, including six Nobel Laureates, the president of Caltech, the president of the American Physical Society, a past chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and a former president of the Harvard Law Review. Leading local high-technology companies endorsed the effort, and prominent university professors expressed interest in teaching at the school part-time, including a Caltech Nobel Laureate.

By 1986, we had developed an outline of our proposed School for Advanced Studies and its full curriculum. Even more importantly, we had attracted the backing of the Los Angeles-based Weingart Foundation, which offered to provide $3.5 million in supplemental private funding to help establish the program.

All that remained was receiving authorization from the Los Angeles School Board, but that last hurdle proved insurmountable. For nearly two decades, the board had been bitterly split down the middle between right-wing and left-wing factions. Although the conservatives generally supported our effort, they hardly considered it a major priority, while some of the “progressives” hated it, viewing it as the worst sort of educational elitism.

In particular, they demanded that students be selected by strict racial proportions, which we believed would destroy the program. One of the front-page newspaper articles quoted board member Jackie Goldberg as saying, “If they don’t want quotas, they don’t want a public school.” With LAUSD refusing to allow the school, we explored various other options, but none of them materialized, and our efforts eventually faded away.

The Los Angeles School Board members went back to fighting over unionization issues and planning their future races for city council.

Bill Fitz-Gibbon spent another 20 years teaching at IHP, always hoping to extend the program to high school, but with no more luck than before.

And I became so disgusted at our failure that a college friend finally persuaded me to take a summer job writing software on Wall Street, a decision that unexpectedly marked my permanent defection from a planned academic career in theoretical physics.

The only long-term consequence of our years of effort was that ABC soon created a successful television sitcom called “Head of the Class,” which ran from 1986 to 1991 and featured ten ultra-bright students in a public school program called “IHP.” The show launched the career of Robin Givens, Mike Tyson’s future wife, while one of the other students was actually played by a Reed IHP graduate.

Naturally, the show itself was set in New York City, since everyone knows that a high-powered academic program like that could never exist in an educational backwater such as Los Angeles.

Ron Unz is publisher of the The American Conservative and founder of Unz.org.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Meritocracy 
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Even as the front pages of America’s top newspapers were debating the vital question of whether Obama’s raised eyebrow had overcome Romney’s clenched jaw, and which of our two ideologically-polar-opposite candidates was more sincere in his pledge of undying loyalty to Israel, a story of perhaps greater significance was reaching our shores from across the stormy Atlantic Ocean.

It appears that Britain’s tabloid press, irritated that so many of its journalists are headed off to prison for celebrity phone-hacking, has decided to repay the media establishment in kind, by bringing to wide public awareness the details of a different scandal centered on the august BBC.

The facts are hardly complex. It seems that the late and longtime BBC media celebrity Jimmy Savile—”a British icon”, “a national treasure”, knighted by the Queen and enormously popular television host of “Top of the Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It”—indulged in certain slight personal foibles. In the words of the this morning’s always restrained New York Times, he was “an insatiable pedophile.” Over 200 of his victims have already come forward, with more surely being on the way.

Strangely enough, strong rumors of such predilictions had apparently circulated for many, many years among the media elites who were his friends and professional associates, spurred by repeated accusations from some small subset of the children he victimized. According to the NY Times, “many people at the BBC and other institutions…knew or strongly suspected from the 1960s on that he was a serial sexual predator” but “he felt sufficiently protected by his status…that he joked and boasted about it.”

The germ of the current controversy is that after the good gentleman had peacefully expired last year at the ripe old age of 84 and his popular television shows were no longer gathering high ratings, a BBC investigative team decided it was finally time to reveal the truth and break the horrific scandal after 40-odd years of official cover-up. Therefore, they produced a powerful documentary expose, including on-air interviews with several of his victims, which was set to air but then pulled at the last moment, perhaps because top BBC officials decided it might require cancellation of several tribute-broadcasts to the late entertainer already scheduled to run over Christmas.

The BBC has now issued a statement admitting longstanding accusations of sexual abuse and pedophilia against nine other staff members or contributors, including charges of sexual assaults on children in the television studios. Perhaps this helps to explain the strange immunity seemingly enjoyed for so long by the late Mr. Savile, based on the principle that no one wants to see the first crack in the dam.

 

Although I’ll admit I’d never heard of Mr. Savile prior to these unfortunate events, some of the details revealed do seem somewhat intriguing, notably his very long peroxide-blond hair and his wildly flamboyant personal dress and behavior. Indeed, I find it quite shocking that anyone could ever suspect any misbehavior on the part of a never-married elderly gentleman who spent so much of his time cavorting with young children and putting them on his television show while promising “to make their wishes come true.”

The whole situation brings to mind an even more popular and successful American entertainer, whose unfortunate demise a couple of years ago brought forth massive worldwide tributes, and sufficient new music sales to totally dwarf the many millions of dollars he had paid out over the years in legal settlements to the various alleged victims of his child-molestation.

Now in these particular cases, the issues involved although surely painful are also quite trivial, a few hundred random victims scattered here and there. But the central conclusion should be that a media system capable of covering up such explosive facts for so many decades is surely capable of absolutely anything else, and the words—or especially the silence—of such media organs carry very little weight about any more serious matters, which is something all of us should take very much to heart.

As it happens, the head of the BBC during these scandalous events is now the incoming CEO of The New York Times Company, scheduled to assume office in early November. I suspect his important efforts in British media have prepared him well for what will be required of him in America.

Now I personally tend to doubt that any of America’s own prominent political leaders are actually “insatiable pedophiles.” But I also tend to doubt that our media would ever tell us if they were.

 

On a much more pleasant note, my lengthy and recently concluded series on Race and IQ seems to have had even more impact than I had expected, even aside from the lengthy discussions and heated exchanges.

I hadn’t bothered checking the Google rankings for the last month or two, but once I did, I discovered some pleasant surprises. Among the 38M or so search results for “Race IQ” my own articles or commentary on them now occupied 3 of the top 10 results, and 8 of the top 20. So it seems likely that anyone researching this general topic has a reasonably good chance of encountering some of my own writings.

 
• Category: Ideology 
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TAC-RaceIQ With my long sequence of articles and columns on Race/IQ having now apparently wound to a close, I thought I’d provide a full collection of the entire series and accompanying debate for convenient future access, not least for myself.

Running almost a dozen separate items across nine weeks and totalling some 23,000 words, the pieces certainly helped to expand my own limited knowledge of the topic in question, and also brought me into contact with a wide variety of (overwhelmingly hostile) websites and bloggers of which I’d previously been unaware. The thousands of (overwhelmingly hostile) comments I received were also quite enlightening.

Normally, I would include a very brief summary of every item, but in this particular case the list was so enormously long, interested readers will be forced to rely upon the usually self-descriptive titles instead. In one or two cases, my critics later realized they’d made a simple calculational mistake and after insulting and attacking me, later “disappeared” their rebuttals, rather than admit their error—those links are currently broken. I also apologize in advance for the numerous hostile responses I’m sure I missed…but there were an awful lot!

Meanwhile, I’ve spent most of the last month working on a new and somewhat related research topic, namely the contours of America’s current “meritocracy” and especially the college admissions system by which it is largely created. The subject is actually much less innocuous than it might sound.

Race, IQ, and Wealth, Ron Unz/The American Conservative, July 18, 2012

The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences, Ron Unz/The American Conservative, July 18, 2012

Race, IQ, and Wealth, Steve Sailer/ISteve, July 18, 2012

Has Ron Unz Refuted “Hard Hereditarianism”?, David Sanders/VDare.com, July 20, 2012

The new Ron Unz piece on IQ, Tyler Cowen/Marginal Revolution, July 21, 2012

No Mexican Flynn Effect (or Ron Unz is no longer credible), Occidentalist, July 21, 2012

Ron Unz Dismantles Racial Explanations of IQ, Victor Ganata, July 21, 2012

Intelligence, Again, Alexandria, July 22, 2012

Cities Make You Smart, Turbulence Ahead, July 22, 2012

IQ and the Wealth of Nations?, Social Democracy for the 21st Century, July 22, 2012

No Exception, Occidentalist, July 23, 2012

Race, IQ and wealth: A preliminary reply, Political Correctness Watch, July 24, 2012

Ron Unz on Race, IQ, and Wealth, Peter Frost/Evo and Proud, July 21, 2012, July 24, 2012

Race/IQ: Rejecting the Ostrich Response, Ron Unz/The American Conservative, July 24, 2012

Ron Unz and IQ, HBD Chick, July 25, 2012

Hispanic Performance by Generation, Occidentalist, July 26, 2012

Race/IQ: The Rural/Urban Divide, Ron Unz/The American Conservative, July 26, 2012

More from Ron Unz on IQ, HBDChick, July 26, 2012

Mexican-American IQ, HBDChick, July 26, 2012

IQ Estimates from Wordsum Scores by Ancestry, Audacious Epigone, July 26, 2012

Rural White Americans, HBDChick, July 27, 2012

What Do IQ Differences Really Mean?, Josh Rothman/The Boston Globe, July 27, 2012

Hispanics, the NLSY 97, Occidentalist, July 28, 2012

Did Ron Unz Score An Own Goal Too?, Anatoly Karlin, July 28, 2012

Ron Unz’s Rural/Urban Data, HBDChick, July 28, 2012

More on Race, IQ, and Wealth, Peter Frost/Evo and Proud, July 28, 2012

Race/IQ: The Boston Globe Takes Notice, Ron Unz/The American Conservative, July 30, 2012

Irish-American IQs, HBDChick, July 30, 2012

Race and IQ, Balloon Juice, July 30, 2012

Race and IQ: A Conservative Debunks, Andrew Sullivan, July 30, 2012

Race, IQ, and Wealth, LewRockwell, August 1, 2012

Race/IQ: Incorporating the Racialist Perspective, Ron Unz/The American Conservative, August 2, 2012

Richard Lynn and Helmuth Nyborg Reply to Ron Unz, American Renaissance, August 2, 2012

IQ and the Wealth of Nations: Richard Lynn Replies to Ron Unz, Richard Lynn/VDare.com, August 2, 2012

Helmuth Nyborg’s Reply to Ron Unz, Helmuth Nyborg/VDare.com, August 2, 2012

Professors Lynn and Nyborg Respond to Ron Unz, HBDChick, August 2, 2012

Data? We Don’t Need No Data, Henry Harpending/West Hunter, August 3, 2012

IQ Estimates from Wordsum Scores by Ethnicity and Community Type, Audacious Epigone, August 4, 2012

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: IQ, Race/IQ 
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The endless pace of change in our media landscape regularly plays tricks upon all of us.

Many have seen the amusing web video in which a very young child repeatedly attempts to click or swipe the colorful pages of a magazine, before finally declaring it “broken” to his smiling father, who finally hands him an “unbroken” iPad. Similarly, for over half a century US News and World Report ranked as one of America’s most influential weekly newsmagazines, but teenagers today probably consider it as just being some sort of website guide to colleges. And Newsweek, once even a more powerful and influential publication, with many millions of worldwide subscribers less than a decade ago, was sold in late 2010 ago for a single dollar, and is even now in the process of disappearing into a web-upstart calling itself “The Daily Beast.”

All these recent developments should be kept in mind when we consider the proper place in history of Encounter, a London-based magazine which was published for nearly forty years before finally closing at the beginning of the 1990s, soon after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I suspect that for 95% of American intellectuals under the age of 40, the name means almost nothing, while for those over the age of 60, it carries enormous weight and significance. The founding co-editors were American journalist Irving Kristol and British poet Stephen Spender, with European intellectual Melvin Lasky later serving as the primary editor for the last thirty-odd years of Encounter’s existence.

From its 1953 launch, backed by the secret financial support of the CIA and British Intelligence, the ideological orientation of the magazine constituted what is sometimes called “Cold War Liberalism,” which at that time was a stance sharply different from that of America’s far more leftward leading opinion journals such as The Nation and The New Republic, or Britain’s The New Statesman.

Based on positions, influence, and key writers and personnel, Encounter might be considered the intellectual forefather of America’s present-day neoconservative movement, but probably has an almost equally strong claim to being a direct ancestor of much of today’s mainstream-liberalism as well. Indeed, the quality and influence of the magazine is such that New America Foundation co-founder Michael Lind, who falls into neither of those ideological camps, has described it as “The best magazine of ideas ever, full stop.”

The statue of once-mighty Ozymandias stands trunkless in the desert, and until five weeks ago a similar fate had seemingly befallen Encounter, whose Wikipedia entry was merely a stub of just a few sentences, mostly regarding the 1967 scandal when the CIA funding was revealed. But as a completely unanticipated consequence of our Historical Research Competition, Scott Lahti of North Berwick, Maine choose to fully restore this intellectual monument, producing a new Encounter Magazine entry twenty-fold larger in size and incorporating a thorough discussion of the history, politics, and intellectual impact of what was probably one of the most influential publications of the second half of the twentieth century. He received our First Prize for his outstanding effort.

Down through August, Encounter may have constituted an obscure and totally insignificant buried tidbit within Wikipedia’s vast collection of human knowledge, but the magazine’s description now stands as far more detailed and extensive than that of many of today’s most prominent publications such as The Atlantic, Time, Harpers, and The Nation, and fully comparable to those of The New York Times, The New Republic and The New Yorker. Furthermore, since the complete Encounter Archives are online and freely-linkable in our content-archiving system, the Wikipedia article includes numerous links and references to many of Encounter’s most important articles and authors, something which those other ongoing publications mostly prohibit for practical business reasons. So in this particular case, the long-dead do enjoy some clear advantages over the still living in the marketplace of ideas.

I hope and expect that as time goes by, more and more of the leading publications of the last century or two will similarly regain their proper standing in the catalogue of our modern intellectual life, and will no longer be limited to just a few sentences of often one-sided or misleading description.

 

Aside from Lahti’s outstanding entry on Encounter, we were very pleased that our competition attracted numerous other fine submissions, which helped to illustrate the resource value of the millions of pages of high-quality content material we have now made permanently available online. The names and authors of the winning entries have now been posted.

The Second Place winner was Creating the “First Lady”: Presidents’ Wives in Popular Magazines, 1880-1930, by Donna L. Halper, a Communications professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Her study was a very detailed and meticulously documented history of the awareness and evolving role of “the American First Lady,” based on the coverage found in our major popular magazines across nearly the last two centuries.

Another winner was Women’s Health Protective Associations in the United States by Amelia Bonea, a Romanian-born historian now at Tokyo University, presented the history of these health organizations, from their earliest origins in the late Nineteenth Century.

And The American Russian Institute by Fred S. Naiden, an ancient historian at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, provided a very interesting account of the pro-Soviet propaganda activity of New York City’s American Russian Institute between the 1920s and 1940s. The discussion especially focused on the Institute’s publication, The American Quarterly of the Soviet Union, and its young Communist field director, Moses Finkelstein, a Columbia graduate student who eventually ended his career as Sir Moses Finley, a pillar of the British academic establishment and a leading Cambridge Don.

 
• Category: Ideology 
RonUnz1
About Ron Unz

A theoretical physicist by training, Mr. Unz serves as founder and chairman of UNZ.org, a content-archiving website providing free access to many hundreds of thousands of articles from prominent periodicals of the last hundred and fifty years. From 2007 to 2013, he also served as publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine, and had previously served as chairman of Wall Street Analytics, Inc., a financial services software company which he founded in New York City in 1987. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Stanford University, and is a past first-place winner in the Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He was born in Los Angeles in 1961.

He has long been deeply interested in public policy issues, and his writings on issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and social policy have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Nation, and numerous other publications.

In 1994, he launched a surprise Republican primary challenge to incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson of California, running on a conservative, pro-immigrant platform against the prevailing political sentiment, and received 34% of the vote. Later that year, he campaigned as a leading opponent of Prop. 187, the anti-immigration initiative, and was a top featured speaker at a 70,000 person pro-immigrant march in Los Angeles, the largest political rally in California history to that date.

In 1997, Mr. Unz began his “English for the Children” initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in California. He drafted Prop. 227 and led the campaign to qualify and pass the measure, culminating in a landslide 61% victory in June 1998, effectively eliminating over one-third of America’s bilingual programs. Within less than three years of the new English immersion curriculum, the mean percentile test scores of over a million immigrant students in California rose by an average of 70%. He later organized and led similar initiative campaigns in other states, winning with 63% in the 2000 Arizona vote and a remarkable 68% in the 2002 Massachusetts vote without spending a single dollar on advertising.

After spending most of the 2000s focused on software projects, he has recently become much more active in his public policy writings, most of which had appeared in his own magazine.


Personal Classics
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Hundreds of POWs may have been left to die in Vietnam, abandoned by their government—and our media.
Talk TV sensationalists and axe-grinding ideologues have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.