Florida Board of Education sets benchmarks depending on race

Goals higher for whites & Asians than for blacks

DUVAL COUNTY, Kan. - The Florida Board of Education issued new benchmarks for students depending on their race.

The state says its goal is to get all students on track, but not everyone is convinced.

Duval County School Board Chair Betty Burney says the new benchmarks suggest the Sunshine State is stereotyping students by setting the bar lower for black students, saying the state is taking a step backwards.

"Students shouldn't be tracked by the color of their skin," Burney said. "All students can learn."
Burney said what the state doesn't realize it has done is "is it has put something back into the mindset of several African Americans that goes all the way back to the 50s and the 60s and the 70s."

By 2018, the Florida Board of Education aims to have 74 percent of black grade school students at or above their grade level in reading. That's noticeably lower than the 88 percent of white students and 90 perecent of Asians expected to achieve the same goal.

Burney said she hopes Duval County has its own agenda, saying she has disregarded the rating scale.

Burney said she's worried the new benchmarks will only discourage black and Hispanic students.

"I think when you put in front of any young child you are only expecting X that's what you'll get," Burney said. "Our hope is that the state will have high expectations for everyone."

But the Florida Board of Education says that separating goals by race sets higher standards for sub groups that are behind.