Maybe the goals should have been written more tactfully. Maybe they shouldn’t have been written at all, but with the vote, the State Board of Education set achievement targets for students based on their race.
“All children can learn,” said Rep. Darryl Rouson.
Representative Darryl Rouson is outraged. The board is trying to get 74% of black students to read at grade level by 2018, but is setting a higher bar for Asian and White students.
Rouson has three children in public school. “I would not want any teacher of my children who attend public schools to have a different expectation or goal for them.”
One week after the board adopted the standards based on race the governor got into the debate. Tuesday Governor Rick Scott told the board to clarify their strategic plan.
Scott says the board needs to make sure its goals are for all races to achieve 100 percent proficiency. “I would ask the board to more completely incorporate this recognition into its strategic plan so that we can focus on helping every student to achieve the highest level of success.”
At last Tuesday’s meeting the board did set a goal for all students to reach grade level in reading and math by 2022.
In a one-on-one interview with Education Commissioner Pam Stewart last Friday, she told me in order to reach 100 percent proficiency, racial achievement gaps have to be addressed. “We have to look at where our students are right now and how are we going to get all our students to proficiency.”
The Department of Education did send a response from Chairman Gary Chartrand saying: “The measurements will ensure that we are on track and can close the gap faster. To be clear the interim targets will not determine our success. The absence of an achievement gap will.”
The statement doesn’t address the issue of whether or not the board will rework its strategic plan.