The Florida Board of Education recently passed provisions outlining goals for students’ math and reading skills. They don’t treat all the students equally though. They’ve applied different goals based on a student’s race or ethnic background. They’ve segregated the students into groups including Asians, whites, Latinos, and blacks. More is expected from Asians than from all the groups. The Board wants only 74% of black students to be reading at or above their grade level by 2018 compared to 90% of Asians. Whites were just below Asians with 88%, and Latinos were 81%. For math, the numbers were similar. They also included the “economically disadvantaged” as a group in their plan.
The board is confirming the racial stereotype that “blacks can’t read or do math.” Of course, they’re also confirming the stereotype that says that all Asians are super smart, which isn’t all that bad of a stereotype. Board officials claim that they’re only trying to be “fair,” and that their racial specific goals are “realistic and attainable.” They say that everybody has a different starting place, a different “socioeconomic background” that has to be taken into account when goals are established.
The fact that little is expected of black students compared to the others is evidence to many in Florida that the board thinks one race is inferior to the others. And this isn’t fair to anyone. It’s unfair. The black students don’t have to do as well as everybody else, and Asians have to perform better than everybody else. How is that fair?
I’m sure these are the same people that say they want a “colorblind” society. They might even quote Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech emphasizing content of character over skin color. Having a “colorblind” society sounds good to me, but giving minorities special treatment because they’re minorities isn’t going to make race relations any better. It will just pit the groups against themselves even more.
And since the goal of government education is presumably to “make kids smarter,” what is the effect going to be on the minority groups? When black students are faced with the 74% figure, are they more likely to be encouraged to work harder, stay focused and learn more, or are they more likely to be encouraged to slack off, skip school and drop out?
If state board officials are going to take it this far and demand that black students be measured according to a lower standard than the rest, why not just institute segregation again? They could have separate schools for blacks, white, Latinos and Asians. Wouldn’t it help to cut down on racial tensions and hate crimes? Obviously, I’m not really suggesting segregation, but it seems like Florida’s education board might some day be in favor of it.
This entire issue of minorities receiving special treatment would be completely moot if our government wasn’t so involved in educating our kids. I concede that eliminating the Department of Education won’t be happening anytime soon, but for the time being, everybody should be held to the same standard. This doesn’t mean that everybody will succeed to the same extent as everybody else. There are going to be those that need tutoring and those that don’t even need to study to ace an exam. Some will make A’s, and some will make C’s. That’s life.