"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Educational Expectations Based on Race/Ethnicity in Florida

Check your school district's figures for student proficiency based on subgroups

Educational writers have been stunned the last couple of weeks about what's going on in Florida in regard to the State Board of Education setting varying degrees of proficiency standards for public education students based on race.  Here's a brief recap on the decision of the Florida State School Board from bet.news:

Florida’s State Board of Education recently passed a set of controversial reading and math standards for students based entirely upon race.
Under the new guidelines, the schools are aiming to achieve reading proficiency levels of 90 percent for Asian students, 88 percent for white students, 81 percent for Latino students and 74 percent for Black students by 2018.

All subgroups are upset.  Some are indignant about the low expectations for their children and others are concerned about a higher bar for their children.  In this age of alleged acceptance and tolerance, why would the Florida State Board of Education pass such a blatant set of standards based on a student's race?

The Sun-Sentinel interviewed two spokespersons with concerns of the standards being racially discriminatory:

“All children should be held to high standards and for them to say that for African-Americans the goal is below other students is unacceptable,” Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, told the Sun-Sentinel.
 The Sentinel also noted that Winnie Tang, the president of the Asian American Federation of Florida, found the new goals detrimental to Asian students too.  We still have a lot of students who are average and below average. Being [perceived as] a higher achiever really hurts a lot of students,” she said.

Education Reformer and former Governor Jeb Bush didn't like the guidelines in another area of the country.  From The Daily Caller:
The District of Columbia introduced a similar plan for different standards for racial and ethnic groups last month. At the time, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush penned an op-ed lamenting the lowering of standards for minority students, advocating that “schools’ expectations should be colorblind.” 
“As a nation, we have rejected police use of racial profiling on the streets,” he wrote. “By what rationale do we now accept it from educators in the classroom?”

In the same op-ed Bush praised Florida schools — prior to the introduction of the new standards — for narrowing the achievement gap between black, Hispanic and white students.

“Over the past decade, Florida has had the largest achievement gains for students with disabilities, the third-largest for low-income students and the fourth-largest in the country for African-Americans,” he wrote. “The U.S. Department of Education identified Florida as one of only three states substantially closing the achievement gap between black and white elementary students in both reading and math. Florida’s 4th grade Hispanic students now read as well as or better than the average student in 21 other states.”

Apparently the State Board of Education decided it was taking too long to decrease the achievement gap based on the former plan, so it implemented a plan based on racial subgroup performance. Did the State Board lower the expectations for student achievement and the state now might just get what it needs for federal money?  Is this what is behind this move or could it be a plan by the state to rid itself of racially driven data in education once and for all?

The state of Florida, by issuing these guidelines, is stating certain ethnic/racial groups are performing more poorly or better than other ethnic/racial groups.  Expectations are defined for students based on the color of their skin, not on the content of their character or innate abilities.  (Good Lord, Martin Luther King must be turning over in his grave). 

Certain groups file will probably file suit over these new rating methods and the court may determine the State Board did act in a discriminatory manner and the court will then throw out all measures of student expectation based on ethnicity/race.  Or perhaps the court will establish its own mandate for public schools to determine what goals are attainable for each subgroup.  

Will the court rule the state practiced discrimination setting goals based on a student's racial/ethnic group designation and Florida must reinstate standards of achievement not based on subgroup data?  Or will the court order the state to make a different determination of appropriate goals of subgroup performance?  Will a student be graded on his/her individual performance without mention of race or will racial/ethnic group testing percentages be upheld and modified?

Is Florida's change in educational standards change a discriminatory practice or is it a move to end subgroup testing and test on individual achievement, not subgroup achievement? When can race be taken into consideration for academic achievement and when does it become discriminatory in educational expectations?

Here's an article from the University of Chicago Undergraduate Law Review on the unintended consequences of NCLB.  It raises some of the issues the Florida State Board of Education is facing with disparate AYP scores:

NCLB was the federal government’s first attempt to impose a sweeping series of regulations on the US public education system. Unfortunately, the implementation of these regulations was hampered by a lack of federal funding, the unrealistic mandate that all the subgroups of each of a state’s public schools meet identical AYP benchmarks, and a poorly thought out series of consequences for schools consistently failing to make AYP. A more effective policy would have provided more federal funding; given the federal government the responsibility of creating standardized tests; created multiple proficiency benchmarks associated with different post secondary educational tracks; created a formula that set AMOs for specific schools, and individual subgroups within those schools, relative to the past performance of those schools and subgroups; mandated standardized tests include additional subjects such as social studies, arts, and music; and devised a more effective set of consequences for schools failing to make AYP. Without such changes to NCLB’s requirements, it will continue to be regarded as more of a failure than a success,” has been inserted. Until these reforms are implemented, NCLB’s shortcomings will continue to hamper the US public education system.

If it is an unrealistic mandate that all subgroups meet identical standards, then a state must either lower the standards for all subgroups, establish different standards for each group or eliminate the standards all together.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter