Thursday, November 29, 2012

Florida State Board of Education Passes Plan for Racially-Based Academic Goals

Given all of the attention that has been directed toward the educational and academic performance of African American students, including the recent Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal and the recently released report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education  that found that only 52 percent of Black male ninth-graders graduate from high school four years later compared to 78 percent of White, non-Latino male ninth-graders, it is not expected that school districts around the nation try to address this problem. The question is really how one attempt to address this issue does.

The Florida State Board of Education recently passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading; however it is based upon their race. The revised strategic plan passed by the board states that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, and 74percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, and blacks at 74 percent.

As anticipated, making performance goals based on race has angered many in the community of Palm Beach County and across the state. As they stands, the goals support a long lasting stereotype that African American youth are not able to learn as well or as much as white and Asian youth and instead of trying to tackle the problem head on, they have decided to “dumb down the expectations” for African American kids when compared to other races.

Regardless of the changes, the fact remains that nationally with regard to males alone, just 12 percent of black male 4th graders nationally and 11 percent of those living in large central cities performed at or above proficient levels in reading on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), compared with 38 percent of white males in that grade nationwide, according to the report from the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of the nation's urban school districts.

Among 8th graders, only 12 percent of black males across the country and 10 percent living in large cities performed at or above proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white males in that grade nationwide.