So, apparently brown and black people aren’t as smart as white people now…
Just as an aside and for the sake of full disclosure, I’m half Latina (my maiden name is Garcia) and half “white”. I’m not offended for “my people” as much as I’m baffled, flabbergasted, offended, angry because of the farce that is called education these days. As this lunacy plays out, my old-fashioned belief is only affirmed; that It is purely the government’s responsibility to protect the right to education of its citizenry and never to educate its citizenry. The onus to educate lies upon one’s parents and eventually oneself. As a teacher, my first-day-of-school speech always started with, “My job is not to educate you. My job is to give you the tools to enable you to educate yourself.”
Now, to really talk about this matter fairly, we have to start at the beginning (kind of)…
In Florida, we have this stupid system where we hold teachers accountable for their students’ test scores; and the test upholds this strangely obscure “standard” that has now created a “teaching to the test” culture — because there’s no way the children could actually pass the test if teachers don’t teach to the test (an highly celebrated education professor at a Florida university recently took the FCAT very publicly and FAILED the writing section. Yeah.); which means there’s A LOT of much-needed material that gets left out, but that’s for later in this post. Teachers don’t have any control over who’s in their classroom. They don’t control the socio-economic status of their students. But they’ve been held accountable for it all…
And there’s more. We hold these teachers accountable for whether or not their students pass the almighty test, but the “system” turns around and graduates everyone and anyone, because the FedGov grants funding based on advancement. So, we now spend money creating programs (money, incidentally, that could be used to hire more teachers or upgrading classroom technology or desks) to accelerate failed students so they can squeak through to “pass” so we can get money for the head that passed through the door to the next phase. To the point that some grade levels are “important” while the classrooms for other grade levels are just holding tanks and the teachers, expensive childcare.
I’ve been there. I know this game all too well. When I gave my 12th grade English students failing grades, those students were able to take a 2-week computer course and graduate from high school. So, why didn’t they all just do that in the first place?!?! Oh right. That’s not education. Those computer-coursed students didn’t actually learn anything. Not one of them was prepared for college, trade school, or a higher-than-minimum-wage job. But they graduated and the school got money for that accelerated head. So, “thank you, Stephanie, for your hard work, but it really didn’t matter…”
I know lots of teachers who said a student was not ready to accelerate, yet the school accelerated that student anyway. So then that unprepared student’s next teacher is somehow responsible for that unprepared student’s failure of the almighty test. This happens every year at every public school in every county in Florida.
And here’s where we come in today…
They’ve “tweaked” the standards to include consideration for RACE & socio-economic status.
We have to approach this fairly (ironically). The Florida Department of Education is reacting to the sore standard to which teachers are being held. It’s clear they want to continue to hold teachers accountable somehow, so they’re lowering the standards of certain groups of students who are historically known to not perform as well, thus making the standard of accountability for the teachers more “fair”. The problem is, they’re saying they’re creating “an even playing field” for students, when between the lines, they’re saying, “if you’re black or hispanic, you’re not smart enough to succeed, so we will manufacture your success for you.” These students will succeed in grade school, but they are being set up for failure in life. Meanwhile the real problem in education remains unaddressed: the uneducated “educated” masses.
Now, for just a minute, try to forget about the fact that these are egregiously heinous actions against children simply because of the color of their skin (I know it’s hard), and think about the future of the US work force. HR directors and employers are already reporting an under-educated, unqualified workforce. WE ALREADY HAVE THIS PROBLEM. In fact, MANY companies report they HAVE AVAILABLE POSITIONS, but are having trouble finding QUALIFIED workers. Lowering the standard for anyone just exacerbates this problem.
What’s more, it only became OK for someone to choose NOT to indicate race on a job application in the last 20 years. Because of this new “standard”, in the next 20 years, you’ll see employers require race indication and start to only hire whites and Asians. What do you think will happen to the socio-economic status of hispanics and blacks then??
This is the whole problem with “leveling the playing field” and working to “make things fair”. Life isn’t fair. The most financially successful people aren’t those who are rich. They are those who financially succeeded in spite of their socio-economic situation or “meager beginnings”. But what’s more, those who succeed in life realize that their right to education means their right to educate themselves. That no one but THEY are responsible for them.
Those who succeed realize that their “right to education” means they have the right to *educate themselves*.
If you really want to “level the playing field” stop educating the masses! But since that won’t be happening any time soon, I’ll settle for more rigorous standards for students in a more flexible education system. (Here’s an awesome blog post about how we view learning.) The fact of the matter is not every human being is made for learning from books or the classroom environment. Not everyone is designed for a college education or an Office Space-esque cubicle. So why are we pushing students to go to college anyway? Once again … Money.
The FDOE just made things worse for these “under-performing” groups.
Here’s the article from the Palm Beach Post about what the Florida Department of Education just did. By-the-way, this is the ONLY news organization to report on this thus far. And then contact your local representatives to tell them how much you disapprove of this action! Find your Florida Senator here. Find your Florida House Representative here.
Lowering the bar is never the answer. Ever. Creating a complicated system of bars is just stupid. Next thing you know, they’ll be creating quotas based on students’ personalities.