Mary Ellen Ritter, Daytona Beach News-Journal, August 22, 2023
Bunnell Elementary staff members Friday pulled Black fourth- and fifth-graders out of their regularly scheduled activities to attend a meeting about expectations to improve low standardized test scores.
It didn’t matter whether the students had failing or passing grades; Flagler Schools Coordinator of Communications Jason Wheeler confirmed that the students were selected to attend the meeting based on race.
What followed was a five-slide PowerPoint titled “AA Presentation” which noted that Black students had underperformed on standardized assessments for the last three years. According to the presentation, which was riddled with typos, 32% of the school’s Black students scored at Level 3 or above for math and language arts; that number should be 41% according to testing guidelines.
Under the heading “Solution,” the presentation stated that each student will “commit to earning at least a Level 3 or higher on all standardized assessments; concentrate on passing all curriculum-based assessments with at least a 75% or higher; commit to maintaining high iReady scores within their individual track.”
The presentation also outlined the F.A.S.T. Challenge: Students would be paired up to compete against each other. The student with the highest score in their matchup would be rewarded with a meal from McDonald’s.
Two Black teachers led the meeting, according to Wheeler.
An in-school suspension supervisor also attended.
Parents in the community, including those who spoke to The News-Journal, said the presentation discussed how students with higher grades have a higher chance of going to college, and those with lower grades have a higher chance of going to jail, getting shot or getting killed. Wheeler was unable to confirm if that message was shared at the meeting.
Many parents are outraged that their children were singled out based on race, even if they had passing test scores and good grades.
“This was solely based off of color,” said Nichole Consolazio, the mother of a fifth-grade student at Bunnell Elementary.
Consolazio’s son is mixed race, but Consolazio identifies him as white in all of his paperwork.
“I don’t want him to be racially profiled before he’s seen. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in,” she said. “They did not go based off a school record of (if the) child is Black or white or Hispanic, they went solely based off of the color of his skin.”