Does `Race’ really `trump’ social class in educational (under)achievement? Statistical skullduggery in the case for critical race theory?

Hill, Dave (2009) Does `Race’ really `trump’ social class in educational (under)achievement? Statistical skullduggery in the case for critical race theory? In: Theory and Evidence in European Educational Research, EERA Conference 2009, 28 - 30 September 2009, Vienna. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


In this paper I critique the misuse of statistics in arguments put forward by Critical Race Theorists in Britain showing that `Race’ `trumps’ Class in terms of underachievement at 16+ exams and University entrance. Realising that the statistics presented in the 2000 Ofsted report by Gillborn and Mirza Educational Inequality; Mapping race, class and gender- a synthesis of research evidence sat uncomfortably with the claims of Critical Race Theory that `race’, not class, is the fundamental form of oppression in Britain, some Critical Race Theorists have since redefined the category of class difference in education attainment. Departing from 2000 report’s practice of showing class difference in educational attainment by comparing `social class 1’ (upper professional) with `social class 5’ (unskilled working class), Critical Race Theorists, for example David Gillborn in his statistics supplied to the Times Educational Supplement (Ward, 2008) now seek to show class difference in educational attainment by comparing `social class 3') with `social class 4'). Of course, these differences are considerably narrower than between `social class 1’ and `social class 5’. In this paper I present alternative representations of that data, and refer to CACI data concerning postcodes and university entrance (Shephers, 2009), data which does not show `white supremacy’. At a theoretical level, using Marxist work e.g. by Motala and Vally in South Africa (2009), the African-American writer Oliver Cromwell Cox (1948, also Reed , 2001), Young (2006) Zavazardeh (2002), Kelsh and Hill (2006), Kelsh, Hill and Macrine (2009), Cole and Maisuria, (2007) Cole (2009) I argue for a notion of `raced’ and gendered class, in which some (but not all) minority ethnic groups are racialised or xeno-racialised) and suffer a `race penalty’ in, for example, teacher labelling and expectation, treatment by agencies of the state, such as the police, housing, judiciary, health services and in employment. Gillborn’s current (2008) treatment of social class analysis and underachievement is critiqued as dismissive and extraordinarily subdued. I offer a Marxist critique of Critical Race Theory from statistical and theoretical perspectives, showing that it is not `whiteness’, a key claim of CRT, that most privileges school students in England and Wales. This analysis has policy implications regarding school/ school district/ national education policies, and also wider social and economic policies such as social cohesion, exclusion/ inclusion, and addressing wider economic and power inequalities in European societies (Booth, 2008; Toynbee and Walker, 2008; Hill, 2009a, 2009b; Hill and Kumar, 2009).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education
Item ID: 5103
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Ms Samantha Halford
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2010 08:01
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:18

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