Should Educational Goals Be Based on Race?

Florida joins D.C. and Virginia in creating educational benchmarks based on racial subgroups.

In addition to its budget concerns, the Florida Board of Education is taking some heat for its plan (see starting on page 11) that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race. 

According to CBS News, by 2018, the Florida BOE plan would have 74 percent of African-American grade school students at (or above) grade level in reading; 81 percent of Hispanic students are expected to reach grade level (or above) in reading and further ethnic breakdown puts expectations of 82 percent of American Indian students, 88 percent of white and 90 percent of Asian students at (or above) grade level.

For math proficiency: 74 percent of African-American students, 80 percent Hispanic, 81 percent American Indian, 86 percent white and 92 percent of Asian students are to be at (or above) grade level.

Many who are against this plan cite reasons of the lower expectations for some races and higher expectations for others as racist; community leaders feel it is stereotyping and the NAACP says it is "soft bigotry of low expectations."

Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart says the plan will help Florida achieve a "world class education system"; and per CBS Tampa, State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan has said that setting goals for different subgroups was needed to comply with terms of a waiver that makes states independent from some federal regulations and provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

While school systems routinely make accommodations for students based on disabilities and language, do you think this is going too far with creating subgroups based on nationality or race? Or is this a creative approach to raise expectations for some subgroups?

Racer X October 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Goals should be imposed on the groups, not on the educational system.
Racer X October 16, 2012 at 11:36 AM
90% of Asians meet expectations because THEY expect that of themselves. This due to values instilled in them by their family and peers, not the educational system. The ethnic groups who do worse do so because these values are not deemed as being so important, largely, I believe, due to the ignorance that we have cheerfully bred into them over the generations and still encourage today. This type of curve in expectations only serves to continue in those areas where we have always failed these groups. It's pretty simple really. Equal rights mean equal expectations. If I were a member of one of these sub-groups, I believe I would find this type of curve insulting and counter productive.
Gerald McDowell October 16, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I have a basic question - why is anything based on race? Establish a baseline - say 85% and set a goal for every student to be at that level in a determined time frame. There are many factors why groups score differently, but I disagree that it has to do with which values are important or not - the reasons are more complicated than that and probably controversial. Our focus needs to be to strengthen the partnership between the school, home and community - therein lies the basic issue.
Racer X October 16, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Mr. McDowell- Perfectly said.


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