Education plan draws fire - FOX 13 News

Education plan draws fire

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The Florida Department of Education says its mission is to ensure 100 percent of students achieve at or above certain grade levels by the year 2017-2018.

Their plan is raising eyebrows, and even drawing accusations of racism.

At the center of the controversy is Florida's Strategic Plan, which the department says is its roadmap for success.

The plan breaks down achievement goals by what's called subgroups, and most of them are separated by race.

According to the plan, by the year 2018, the following groups need to be at or above grade level in reading:

  • 90% of Asian students
  • 88% of Whites
  • 82% American Indian
  • 81% Hispanics
  • 74% African Americans

There are similar percentages for math.

Dr. Carolyn Hepburn Collins, with Hillsborough's NAACP, calls it an uneducated idea.

"What we're saying is we don't have the same expectations for all students…and we ought to have the same expectations," she further explained.

Even if all students can't achieve 100 percent, she says we can't expect they won't reach it.

"No matter what the problem is, the answer is not to make the kids feel inferior. Because you take that kid and you take them further back," she said.

Two federal programs, No Child Left Behind and Adequate Yearly Progress already report student grades by race. But this new plan sets standards based on race.

Hillsborough School Board member Doretha Edgecomb says it's not about separating kids, but realizing they're not starting from the same point.

"I think the mere fact that you start at different places. And so you could say let's all reach 100 percent, but how realistic is that?" Edgecomb said.

She went on to say, "I think that sets you up for failure. To say everybody will be at the same place at the same time. When they didn't start at the same place."

Statistics show African American and Hispanic students are lagging behind. Right now, only 38 percent of African American students are at or above reading level.

The question is why? How much of a part do socio-economics, parental involvement and a school play in a student's education?

The state plans to use other subgroups, in addition to race. Those categories include economically disadvantage, English language learners and students with disabilities. The state hasn't said yet how the new plan will be implemented in our classrooms.

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