According to Alabama’s new education standards, black students will not be expected to do as well as white ones in public schools. The WSJ reports:
“Beginning this fall, Alabama public schools will be under a new state-created academic accountability system that sets different goals for students in math and reading based on their race, economic status, ability to speak English and disabilities.” Alabama’s Plan 2020 “sets a different standard for students in each of several subgroups — American Indian, Asian/Pacific islander, black, English language learners, Hispanic, multirace, poverty, special education and white.”
In other words, minority students will need to meet lower expectations, while white students (and Asians) will be expected to reach higher proficiency levels.
This practice is not new. In an effort to escape the No Child Left Behind Act’s stringent standards for schools, a number of states applied for a waiver, which would allow states to keep federal funding if their schools met a limited number of benchmarks. Of the 33 states granted a waiver last year, 27 now have different achievement goals for different groups of students. And the Obama administration fully supports this measure, “as long as the low-performing students are required to make greater rates of progress, so that the gap between struggling students and high-achieving students is cut in half over six years.”
The issue of race is clearly still entangling a society that likes to think of itself as post-racial. Ironically, not only are the liberal democrats of the Obama administration not raising red flags when states ask to do this; they are actively supporting racial profiling in schools.
In practical terms, this is setting up a system in which some teachers will think they’ve succeeded as long as the black kids in a class reach a certain low level of proficiency. Meanwhile, they’ll keep pushing the others to do better. This hardly seems like a behavior we want to incentivize, but a teacher trying to do well under these new evaluation standards would be acting rationally to do exactly that. We appear to be recreating the old “separate but equal” education systems within integrated classrooms. Surely color blind standards make more sense.
[Classroom image courtesy of Shutterstock]