Talking to reporters Thursday Governor Rick Scott was asked seven times about controversial new learning goals set for students based on their race. Each question received a similar response.
A reporter asked: “Do you want them to do away with the race based standards?”
Scott answered: “I want them to focus on how do we make sure every child is proficient.”
The state Board of Education adopted the goals last week. The strategic plan calls for 90% of Asian students and 88% of white students to be reading at grade level by 2018. The bar is lower for Hispanic and black students.
The goals are only based on race for the first five years of the board’s plan. By 2022, the board wants ALL races performing at grade level in math and reading.
But that caveat doesn’t satisfy House Democrats, who say the different standards will cause division.
“It is demoralizing,” said Rep. Alan Williams.
“We should not have disparate goals for all of our children,” said Rep. Darryl Rouson.
Democrats are calling for a brand new plan, leaving race out of the equation. In a written statement released Tuesday Scott seemed to sympathize, but when I pushed for specifics, the governor wouldn’t provide any.
A reporter asked: “They’ve made a five year strategic plan that’s really upset a lot of people, so at their next board meeting on November 6th do you think any words in that plan should be changed?”
Scott answered: “I think their plan should be 100 percent focused on making sure every child in this state is proficient.”
If changes are made, they would most likely be adopted at the board’s next meeting on November 6th. As of Thursday, no agenda for that meeting had been posted.
The board used a formula to set its goals, based on how different races are performing right now. In a statement released earlier this week, the board defended those goals, saying the quickest way to close the achievement gap among different races is to address the issue head on.