Firestorm Erupts over Virginia’s Education Goals

Claudio Sanchez, Northwest Public Radio, November 12, 2012

As part of Virginia’s waiver to opt out of mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind law, the state has created a controversial new set of education goals that are higher for white and Asian kids than for blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities.

{snip}

Here’s what the Virginia state board of education actually did. It looked at students’ test scores in reading and math and then proposed new passing rates. In math it set an acceptable passing rate at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities.

{snip}

At a meeting of the state board of education in late September, Patricia Wright, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction, defended the new policy.

“Rest assured, all of us hold all students to the same academic standards, but when it comes to measuring progress, we have to consider that students start at different points,” Wright said.

In a phone interview with NPR, Wright explained that Virginia’s expectation is that all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, will correctly answer the same number of questions to pass the state tests.

But the reality is that black and Latino children generally don’t do as well as white and Asian children, and that gap, says Wright, is what the new policy is meant to address by setting more modest goals for struggling minority children and giving them more time to catch up.

“The concept here is that if indeed within six years we can close the achievement gap between the lowest- and highest-performing schools—at least cut it in half—that would be acceptable progress,” says Wright.

At least one board member responded indignantly to accusations that the new policy harkens back to the era of segregation and Jim Crow. “We’re not trying to go back to Jim Crow. What does that make us, Uncle Toms?” said Winsome Sears, one of three black board members at a meeting last month.

“So why do we have these different subgroups? Because we’re starting with black children where they are. We can’t start them at the 82 percentile because they’re not there. The Asian students are there. And so the real question is why aren’t black students starting at the 82 percentile? Why? Why are they not there?” Sears said.

That’s the problem the board wants to solve, Sears said. {snip}

{snip}

In at least one other state—Florida—the NAACP has raised its concerns about new passing rates and performance goals for black and Latino students, although they don’t appear to be as low as Virginia’s.

Meanwhile, members of the Virginia Legislature’s black caucus say they will consider filing a grievance with the U.S. Education Department before the policy is fully adopted.

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  • Puggg

    Obama must be confused.

    On the one hand, he needs to allow for race normed education standards to placate the teachers unions and their members rightfully indignant that they’re being made to take all the blame for the “failure” of their low IQ students who could do nothing but fail. But on the other hand, he needs to deal with radical egalitarians in his own Justice Department, pushing the disparate impact theory, and in the ADL and Southern Poverty Lie Center.

    • crystal evans

      In low income schools, all the teachers end up doing anyway is babysitting students who do not want to be there. They have given up on actually teaching them something a long time ago.

  • Tom_in_Miami

    “And so the real question is why aren’t black students starting at the 82 percentile? Why? Why are they not there?” Sears said.”

    That is indeed the real question, but I don’t believe it will be solved in such a way that it 1) makes sense, and 2) pleases the liberal community.

    • Joe

      This is like the questions Galileo started asking when he built telescopes and looked up. There were answers, but none that would please the powers of the time. Hundreds of years later, there are statues of Galileo and no one talks about the universe revolving around the Earth. Unfortunately, the questions Galileo was asking didn’t have a lot of immediate real-world impact on people’s lives, while the questions about the achievement gap have enormous, immediate impacts on all of us.

      • Tom_in_Miami

        Galileo’s observations became more and more impossible to deny as the evidence mounted. What’s going to be the official line when all of science is pointing to genetic deficiency? That time is not far away, according to Charles Murray, when the genetic evidence is undeniable.

  • RJSNS16

    Wow, the subversives behind 1954 Brown vs Board must be laughing up their sleeves.

    Forced integration of schools creates unsolvable PROBLEMS due to genetics and political correctness.

    Then the government throws good money after bad treating SYMPTOMS of the PROBLEMS they created in the first place.

    58 years of a 100% success rate of completely destroying one school after another.

  • 5Sardonicus

    “But the reality is that black and Latino children generally don’t do as well as white and Asian children, and that gap, says Wright, is what the new policy is meant to address by setting more modest goals for struggling minority children and giving them more time to catch up.”
    Aren’t they admitting what IQ tests repeatedly demonstrate? Will more money and special programs change the educational out-comes? Fifty years of academic outreach programs and billions spent on educational improvement have not significantly improved this situation.

  • crystal evans

    I can understand this. How can you expect blacks and Hispanics to perform as well as Asians and whites when the kids have parents that do not speak English and parents that do not care about their kids education anyway. The only ones this would effect are the kids, whose parents care about their education and expect them to improve their scores.

    • The__Bobster

      The parent of Bantu sprogs speaks English….well, sort of.

      • crystal evans

        They speak Ebonics, not proper English.

    • Dan Reardon

      Crystal, I believe they have conducted studies of Black infants being raised to adults by middle / upper class Whites without much change in their academic achievements. What’s the old saying about “putting lipstick on a pig?”

      .

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WP6FBJWJYEU7S6TMNJS5D2BB5M Luis

        “It’s still a pig”.

  • gibs_me_dat

    “We have to consider that students start at different points” is code for: “The lingering effects of slavery and segregation have so negatively impacted the beloved community of color by institutionalizing a system of disparate impact on our vulnerable and at risk youth and teens, that we are forced to adopt these harsh measures. Now, we must force Whites to UnDo their UnFair privileges before we can alleviate the underlying cause of the poverty and discrimination that is at the root of these problems”.

    The fact that they are adopting the new “standards” is just a stragegy of political begging the question: “See how bad things are! Look at the drastic steps we must take to alleviate the harm done. Now we have proof that we need more affirmative action and higher taxes on rich Whiteys”.

    What we think is growing Race Realism in public education is really just a political ploy that will hurt us, and Obama will do it with Race Revenge.

    • Joe

      “The lingering effects of slavery and segregation have so negatively impacted the beloved community of color by institutionalizing a system of disparate impact on our vulnerable and at risk youth and teens,”

      And yet, blacks in Canada, the UK and other countries, which have never had that history of slavery, Jim Crow, the K, and institutionalized racism, do just as badly as blacks here in the US. What’s the common factor here, I wonder…

      • Prof. Jon

        The legacy of colonialism in Africa!

        See how fast I retorted with that old chestnut?

        Always be on your toes. Always be on your toes in this argument.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      “What we think is growing Race Realism in public education is really just
      a political ploy that will hurt us, and Obama will do it with Race
      Revenge.” How so? What will the revenge be?

  • loyalwhitebriton

    Going slightly off topic, GW’s policy of “No Child Left Behind” is a concept not rooted in the soil of reality.
    What if “Johnny” deserves to be left behind?
    What if “Johnny” deserves a kick up the behind?
    Nuff said.

  • Bill

    IQ is destiny.

  • http://profiles.google.com/eladsinned dennis dale

    82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities.

    Blacks are 37 pts off the leaders and only 12 pts ahead of what used to be called mentally retarded. God help us.

    • Dan Reardon

      I don’t find that surprising in the least.

  • Dan Reardon

    Now if they would only separate them things might work out.

  • Guest

    Setting standards by race was kind of dumb. Since the right kind of computer program can keep track of individual results, tabulations by race are unnecessary. Under an individualized system, a teacher would be evaluated by the amount of improvement in each student.

  • zone

    Remembering years ago the response Bill Clinton gave to a reporter regarding a then recently published book, “The Bell Curve” and his answering (paraphrased) “This goes against everything we believe in Today’s America” – Never commenting on how well researched and factual a book it was.