Florida Passes Education Plan That Sets Goals for Students Based on Race

Policymakers attempted to acknowledge the racialized realities of educational inequity. So where'd they go wrong?

By Julianne Hing Oct 16, 2012

It could have been something remarkable. Public education policy which acknowledges the reality of race and inequity? Except, Florida’s recent attempt at doing so has sparked widespread, heated criticism. Last Tuesday, the Florida State Board of Education approved an education reform plan which lays out benchmarks for student improvement based on a student’s race.

A Tampa-based CBS affiliate reported:

[B]y 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.

The plan also calls for fewer than 80 percent of students who are English language learners, or have learning disabilities or are from economically disadvantaged families to be proficient by 2018. And since then, the wider community’s risen up in anger–some have questioned whether the plan is "racist."

"If Asians can have a goal of 90% in reading, why can’t whites, and other subcategories? So I would just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal this sends," said board member John Padget, WTLV/WJXX TV reported. But, board member Kathleen Shanahan made her case for the plan, saying, "I think we need to be realistic in our ability to impact those at the same degree."