Florida’s race-based academic plan is drawing strong criticism and accusations of fostering ethnic stereotypes. The state board of education approved the new school standards last week. The initiative reportedly does not establish learning benchmarks based upon traditional measures but rather on the color of the student’s skin.
The ethnic focused policy calls for 90 percent of Asian students to function at or above grade level in reading by the 2018 academic year. The success threshold for African American or Hispanic students is set far lower, NBC News reports. Just 74 percent of black and 81 percent of Hispanic learners must be able to work at or above their current grade level for the curriculum to be considered effective. A total of 88 percent of white pupils and 82 percent of Native American children must be working at or above their current grade level by the same date. A similar percentage system was also put into place to address math achievement.
Furman University education professor Dr. Paul Thomas had this to say about the new race-based education plan during an interview with Fox News:
“As long as we keep focusing on test data, we’re going to miss what we should be doing in school to help students. The No Child Left Behind Act tried to address achievement gaps which we often look at through racial lenses. “
Dr. Thomas also noted his belief that poverty is the issue that truly impacts academic performance and added that the standardized test metric simply does not work.
Lehigh University Director of Africana Studies, Dr. James Peterson, had this to say about the new educational initiative:
“I don’t know that I would call it racist, but I think we need to call out the school board for making a kind of concession that really re-inscribes our perceptions of race from the past. At the end of the day you have to have statewide standards for all the students that are there and then do the work to make sure that all students achieve those standards.”
Supporters of Florida’s ethnic-based educational policy note that academic success standards have been raised for all pupils and maintain that the achievement rates are just set at different rates for each racial group.
Are concerns that devising different levels of success based solely upon race set students up for failure when they are in the real world justified?