Is mediocrity the new standard for Black students?

Florida adopts race-based academic goals, community in uproar

Carla St.Louis | 1/23/2014, 9 a.m.
While many thought Jim Crow politics ended with the Civil Rights movement, the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges otherwise in ...

Florida, separate

& unequal?

“Florida is perpetuating old historic racist stereotypes that certain individuals are less capable than others based on nothing more than the color of their skin,” said Langer.  This belief is what allowed the idea of separate but equal to be the law for decades. Separate but equal lead to segregated schools. “

Critics against the plan argued that it creates a risk of segregation as Black children are more likely than their white counterparts to be placed in classes for lower performing students--another violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits public school segregation.

“The State of Florida has set separate and unequal expectations that [goes] back to Plessy v. Ferguson,” said Dr. Amir Whitaker, an educational psychologist who teaches street law at Miami Carol City Senior High School. “The policy contradicts decades of scientific research and legal precedent.”   

Low expectations result in low achievements?

Decades of research confirm that low expectations result in low achievement, a type of self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Florida claims this plan will one day result in all students reaching the same high standards, but there is simply no evidence to support this claim,” said Jerri Katzerman, SPLC deputy legal director. “One thing is certain: This plan will fail an entire generation of students of color simply because Florida doesn’t believe in them.”

When teachers underestimate a student’s ability and treat them accordingly--in their classroom routine, in grading, and in evaluating their students’ future prospect--the students internalize that expectation and begin to behave accordingly, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy of low outcomes.

Since the complaint was filed, at least 15 groups have issued letters of support requesting the Department of Justice to launch an investigation against Florida’s Department of Education, demanding that all children can and should be expected to reach the same goals.

For more information about the Southern Poverty Law Center located at 4770 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 760 in Miami, log onto www.splcenter.org. For more information about the Dream Defenders, log onto http://dreamdefenders.org.