Florida will start implementing education goals based on race starting this school year. The state sets different reading and math standards for students from different minority groups. It wants 90 percent of Asian American students reading at grade level by 2018, 88 percent of whites, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students.
In math, 92 percent of Asian American students are expected to perform at grade level, compared with 86 percent for whites, 80 percent for Hispanics and 74 percent for blacks. The goals were approved last October by the Florida Board of Education. Critics say by setting goals lower for black and Hispanic students the state is essentially telling these students that they are not as capable as whites and Asian Americans.
Pam Stewart, Florida's education commissioner, says standards must be established before achievement and learning gaps could be narrowed. Last week, the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint against the goals with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tania Galloni, managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Florida office.
Daria Hall, director of K-12 Policy Development at Education Trust, an education think tank in Washington DC.