State assailed over different targets for ethnic groups in schools

State sets different goals for ethnic groups

A new strategic plan approved by the State Board of Education is facing intense criticism tonight from parents, educators and advocates of racial equality. They're seizing on the plan's targets for students of different ethnic groups.
 
The plan sets higher goals for Asian and white students, and lower ones for Hispanic and black students.
 
The state says they hope to have nearly 90 percent of Asian and white students reading at grade level by 2018. But they called for only 74 percent of black students to be at grade level.

Some called it a terrible message to send.

Teachers and parents gathered at Roosevelt Elementary School tonight, a school where only about a third of students read at grade level, for a meeting about how parents can get more involved in their kids' education.

Roosevelt is primarily made up of minority students, and during their meeting, they learned the state's benchmarks for black student success are different, lower, than goals for white ones.

"Being born African American at one time in this country was considered sub par. I thought that with the different advances we've made as a people, I thought that time would have changed that," said parent Terrely Pierre.

To get a waiver from the Federal New Child Left Behind Act, the state had to show they were going to close the achievement gap between subgroups of students.

The new strategic plan approved calls for 90 percent of Asians, 88 percent of whites, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks to read at grade level by 2018.

"I think that our kids can do it, we just have to demonstrate that," said Roosevelt principal Dr. Glenda Garrett.

The Urban League of Palm Beach County, which pledges to assist minorities in achieving social and economic equality, called the categorized achievement standards wrong.

But more important than that, they say, is the state showing how they actually plan to double the number of black students who can read at grade level in six years.

"How do you engage the community? How do you engage the family? How do you engage organizations such as the Urban League to help and support this number, to reach it," asked Urban League head Patrick Franklin.

A state spokesperson told our news partners at the Sun-Sentinel that the state wants every student to be successful but that starting points have to be accounted for.

If the state's goals were achieved by 2018, the achievement gap between white and black students would be closed by twenty percentage points.

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