msnbc | October 15, 2012
>>> the florida board of education is sparking a fire storm affecting every florida school. this week officials released a plan setting different expectations for students of different races. for example, the plan calls for 90% of asian students to be at or above grade level reading in 2018 compared to 74% of black students. similar standards apply to math. the school board aims to improve performance of k through 12 students. parents worry the students won't be held in the same standards like they were in the real world . welcome to you. i also want to note that the state's education commissioner agreed to come on but declined late yesterday saying she had a prior commitment. so do you think the plan is racist.
>> i don't know if i would call the plan racist. we need to call hout the board of education for making a concession that really just reinscribes our perceptions about race from the past the problem with this particular set of bempbl marks is it mixes concession that essentially some groups will not perform as others when they really need a cohesive statewide benchmark that cuts across race and demographics and do the work to make sure the students disadvantaged or underresourced school systems in the past can actually catch up. once you start to make it race based in terms of the benchmarking, we're reinscribing negative perceptions about people from certain backgrounds. here's what board members argue. the new standards would be an improvement on current levels. but does setting a lower bar for certain races, does it solve the problem of poor performance? does it do anything you think, on an emotional level? does it make them feel lesser? or does it set a lower bar so success is achieved more easily? there's two ways to look at it.
>> it should be statewide. the governor of florida , governor scott, not only did he remove a billion dollars from educational funding, but in the next budget he put it back in, a zero sum game policy. so there's been a lot of confusion. what's happened with this particular story and releasing the information shows you the confusion. you need statewide standards for all the students that are there. then you have to do the work as the board of education and other entities to bring everybody up to the standards.
>> the florida department spokeswoman said this. we want every student to be buck seszful. but we have to take into account their starting point. but is that's what is being addressed here? it seems like the implication is one race is inferior to the other. why not look at this from a financial standpoint? what your family affordability is.
>> that may be a better way of doing that. as you read it, you see how it goes. here's the thing, we have to acknowledge the fact that there are certain districts within the state of florida that are underresourced in the ways which the florida education system works, they don't allocate the resources across the school districts that's equitable. but when you reduce it to race in this way, you -- the complexities. what the school board needs to understand is there is a thing called perception. you're going to find limitations in what you can do with the benchmarks.
>> you gave ways to be analyzed and give different benchmarks that way. in terms of improving performance, do you have any idea on what to do?
>> absolutely. they're focused too much on this eflgts. how can we develop and enhance the curriculum to speak more to the people in the system. how can we provide the key support in the after hours when the children are having the most challenge. how can we beef up support for in-school nutrition and the things we know will make students perform better? those are the thicks they need to do for the populations thooif identified as lagging behind. is this rhetoric is -- to the goals.
>> a lot of questions you put out there. let's hope they get answered in florida