Expectations of Latino students in Florida lower as the Florida Board of Education approves a decision to assess students’ academic expectations based on their race and ethnicity.
As a requirement of the new strategic plan, the Board predicts that by 2018, 90% of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81% of Latino students, and 74% of Black students will all be reading at grade level. Expectations in math closely mirror these statistics, placing academic expectations of Latino students behind that of their Asian and White counterparts.
“I am very concerned about having different achievement expectations for different students,” said Anitere Flores, a Republican State Senator from Miami. “I strongly believe that every student is capable of learning at the highest level and should be encouraged to do so regardless of race.”
Analysts defending the state argue that the strategic plan will push students to work harder. By 2018, Latino students’ reading standards are projected to jump from the current 53% to 81%.
Opponents to the new strategic plan believe that the racial issues tied to these academic expectations may have unintended and severe consequences. Raquel Regalado, Board member of Dade County School Board, says “I don’t see the purpose of [setting these state goals] at this point in time. This is just divisive and confusing.”
The Florida Board of Education stands by their ruling and says that the intentions of the strategic plan have been highly misunderstood. They state that the ultimate goal is that all students are reading and doing math at grade level by 2023.
“Because these are hard conversations to have, it doesn’t mean we can avoid them. Unless we look at the fact that blacks and Latino kids are doing dreadfully and demand progress and demand that schools do better by them, we won’t solve the problem,” says the Vice President for Education Trust, Amy Wilkins.