The Florida Board of Education joined Virginia in setting race based achievement goals that hold Asian American students to a higher standard. The rightmost column in the above excerpt from Florida’s educational strategic plan shows the differing expectations. As you might expect, this standard generated some angry responses.
Winnie Tang of the Asian American Federation of Florida said that the benchmarks are hurtful to Asians:
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
Hilary Shelton of the NAACP Washington Bureau invoked a phrase from former president George W. Bush, saying:
It’s, what do they say? ‘Soft bigotry of low expectations.’ 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.
Cheryl Etters, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, said the numbers were not meant to lower expectations but set “realistic and attainable” goals:
“Of course we want every student to be successful. But we do have to take into account their starting point.
A comment on this blog about the subject brought up the point about multi-racial children – how would they be counted? In a way to maximize the overall percentages?
I think a better approach would have been to set the same number for all groups, and if the board were to insist on breaking down achievement goals into racial categories, they could give different length timelines for achieving those goals. That would take into account differing circumstances but in the end set equal expectations.