The Florida State Board of Education recently announced that its K-12 academic achievement goals for math and reading will vary depending on a student's race.
By 2018, the Florida BOE hopes to see the following reading outcomes:
- 90% of Asian-American students reading at or above grade level
- 88% of Caucasian students reading at or above grade level
- 82% of American Indian students reading at or above grade level
- 81% of Latino students reading at or above grade level
- 74% of African-American students reading at or above grade level
The goals for grade level proficiency in math show a similar breakdown.
CNN's LZ Granderson says the differing goals reflect current reality:
The reason: the disparity in the current reading level. While 69% of whites reach that mark now, only 53% of Latinos and just 38% of blacks do. That's a problem, not only in terms of students' ability to get into college, but just having a workforce in the state that is literate. So though the percentages of the 2017-18 goals seem biased in favor of whites, the percentage increase seeks to aggressively address a major reading problem plaguing minorities.
This isn't racist. This is recognizing that if this racial disparity goes unchecked, it could have debilitating long-term effects on Florida's economy.
But Washington Bureau director of the NAACP Hilary Shelton sees it differently. Mr. Shelton says the lower standards for minorities reflect what President George W. Bush once dubbed the "soft bigotry of low expectations": "It's, what do they say? 'Soft bigotry of low expectations," said Shelton. "They're really letting the educators off the hook playing it this way. We have to challenge our educators to meet the standards of every child."
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush agrees: "By what calculation do you speed up learning by lowering expectations? This delivers a devastating message to African-American, Hispanic and low-income children that they are not as capable as other children."
Washington, D.C. and Virginia also base their educational goals on race.