“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”- Chief Justice John Roberts (Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District No. 1, 2007)
Education is truly the civil rights issue of our time, as inadequate education does more harm than any other societal factor I can think of. George W. Bush called it the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, referring to the standards certain schools hold certain students to. Florida’s Board of Education is directly engaging in such bigotry, and it is disgusting:
Palm Beach, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) – The Florida State Board of Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race.
On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent. It also measures by other groupings, such as poverty and disabilities, reported the Palm Beach Post.
The plan has infuriated many community activists in Palm Beach County and across the state.
“To expect less from one demographic and more from another is just a little off-base,” Juan Lopez, magnet coordinator at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Riviera Beach, told the Palm Beach Post.
A little off-base? Try outright racism and a disservice to minority students expecting the same education as non-minority students. Any time you apply separate blind standards to groups of people based on race, you’re doing far more harm than good to the groups you’re trying to help. These benchmarks may be (and probably are) based on data collected in Florida, but the solution is to engage in creative education to raise the lower-performing subgroups up, not hold them to a different standard.
I believe states have a right to set their own education policies, but not policies that set different benchmarks for success based on the color of your skin. We need to end racial discrimination in the law, whether it be these standards, affirmative action (often called “reverse racism”) or even hate crime laws (why should a crime be punished differently based on who it affects?) The best way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating, period.