A new policy by Florida educators to set student goals in math and reading based on their race is an â€œill-advisedâ€ plan that is destined to fail, education analysts told FoxNews.com.
By 2018, Floridaâ€™s Department of Education wants 90 percent of its Asian students to be reading at or above grade level, compared to 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanic pupils and 74 percent of African-American children. In math, state educational officials want that figure to be 92 percent for Asian students, or 18 percent higher than that of African-American students and 11 percent higher than their American Indian counterparts.
â€œSeparate but equal is not,â€ said Kris Amundson of Education Sector, an independent education think tank based in Washington. â€œI understand that this is recognition that students are beginning at different places â€” and thatâ€™s honest â€” but I think it is, at best, ill-advised to set different learning standards for students based on the color of their skin.â€
Amundson, a former chairwoman of the Fairfax County School Board in Virginia, said the plan â€œsends the wrong messageâ€ to children, adding that the lower standards for minorities closely reflects what President George W. Bush once dubbed the â€œsoft bigotry of low expectations.â€
â€œItâ€™s better to say 80 or 90 [percent], or whatever your number is, and then acknowledge that schools arenâ€™t hitting targets because of certain populations,â€ she said. â€œThatâ€™s more honest than creating a system where everyone gets a trophy.â€
The 24-pageÂ strategic plan, which was approved in October, also sets differing goals for students who are economically disadvantaged, those with disabilities and children who are still learning English. Florida Department of Education officials were unavailable for comment Monday, but chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan has said the goals are needed to comply with terms of a waiver that Florida and 32 other states have within provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
According to state statistics, 69 percent of white students in Florida scored at or above grade level in reading during the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 53 percent of Hispanic students and 38 percent of their African-American classmates.
Dr. Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Board Association, said the stateâ€™s plan has been designed in mind to shrink that sizable gap.
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