Why Diversity in our Schools?
In 2012, the Florida State Board of Education passed a strategic plan setting goals for students regarding math and reading based upon one’s race. The plan, which was to take effect starting 2018, wants 90% of Asian students, 81% of Hispanics, 88% of white students, and 74% of black students to be reading at or above grade level. Other than race, the plan too measures other groupings, including but not limited to poverty and disabilities (Postal, 2012).
From the onset, I want to state categorically that I am against the plan. I hold the view that all students, their race notwithstanding should be held in the same regard. Black and Hispanic students ought to be held in the same esteem White students are held. Less should not be expected of certain students based on their skin colour or origin. Lowering the expectations of a given group of people has the effect of people internalizing that, and lowering the expectations of the same people in real life. Chances are, the teachers will more often than not treat certain groups of students differently as economics and psychology observe. When teachers job security and resources are tied to the achievement of specific targets, they grow a strong incentive to expend their resources and efforts on individuals from particular races (Pacific Legal Foundation, 2013).
The reason Florida has passed this plan was in an aim to close the gap between the percentage of the white and Asian students scoring at or above grade level on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test as well as the percentage of Hispanic and black students doing so. Whereas Florida State Board of Education thought it was doing this to close the gap between the whites, Hispanics and black students, the truth is, it used the same methods of devaluation in its planning.
I am also convinced that more states will follow the lead by the state of Florida. This is attributable to the flexibility of the states to revise their academic goals under the common No Child Left Behind Act. Many of the states having received federal waivers are now beginning to set different expectations for varied subgroups of students. This is a dramatic shift in educational philosophy and policy from the original laws binding education matters and which deserves more sober noise on. The waiver which was issued by the U.S Department of Education lets states abandon the goal set at 100 percent proficiency in mathematics and reading for all students regardless of race and instead hold schools responsible for passing rates that vary by subgroup-letting schools in the long run post significant gains in closing gaps in achievement. Be it as it may, the new academic goals acknowledge that the 100 percent goal is way unrealistic. But also means another thing, that members belonging to certain races say racial and ethnic minorities, English language learners, and students with disabilities won’t make it to college and be ready for the job market by the end of 2016-17 school year at higher rates in most waiver states (O’connor, 2012). Expect more states to follow suit.
O’connor, J. (2012). Explaining Florida’s New Race-Based Achievement Goals. State Impact Florida.
Pacific Legal Foundation. (2013). Race-based academic goals are both offensive and ineffective. Liberty Blog.
Postal, L. (2012, October 20). Florida’s Race-based Goals For Students Spark Debate. Huffpost .