I am instituting a new performance measurement and accountability system for my company, largely based on the color of my employee's skin. I will expect 90 percent skill proficiency from Asian employees, 88 percent from whites, 81 percent from Hispanics, and 74 percent from African Americans.
Of course, since we can apparently expect lessened proficiency from Hispanics and African Americans, we may have to relegate them to more menial, less process critical jobs.
Critics of this plan would call me racist. Bigot. Idiot. Moron. And if I actually had this plan, they'd be right. Only a moronic bigot would adopt such an overtly racist idea.
Make that moronic bigots and the Florida Board of Education. Whether they are one and the same I will leave for you to judge. You see, the esteemed Board has declared new proficiency standards for math and reading for Florida students, and they have based them all on race. Asian students are to achieve 90 percent proficiency in those areas, Caucasian students 88 percent, Hispanics 81 percent, and African Americans only 74 percent.
Proponents say that certain racial groups face unfair disadvantages in their economic and social structures, and therefore require a different level of educational expectation.
I say the Board and their proponents are full of it. I believe this is institutionalizing failure for a group of people determined solely on the color of their skin, while protecting the sorry asses of those who have failed them.
It is true that some groups face harder social and economic challenges that can affect the learning process, but should we freely perpetuate those challenges and insure they continue generation after generation? That's what a substandard education will do. Instead, try recognizing the problems and come up with a plan to surmount them. To capitulate and surrender is a failure of the public education system, as well as to the children most in need of its help.
What is really at play here is an attempt by a less than stellar public education system to cover its failures under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act instituted during the Bush presidency. The state student reading comprehension levels test so poorly, particularly among minorities, that the Board is applying for a waiver to the NCLB requirements. This is a solution designed solely to protect an incompetent system, at the direct expense of its captive constituency.
It seems in Florida that NCLB is being replaced with OBAHCLB (Only Black and Hispanic Children Left Behind).
I recognize that there are no easy answers to this problem, and the schools are not solely to blame. Sometimes you cannot teach those who don't want to learn, or whose parents do not support the process. There is a tendency with today's federalized standards to gear all students to a college prep style education, when the reality is that some students will never, ever be on that path. Perhaps a better solution would be to better identify students who have a greater propensity for the trades and develop programs to steer them to where they are more likely to be a success.
But those decisions should be made on an individual basis – not on the basis of race or ethnicity. An individualized assessment could save as many college bound students as it costs, and would do so on merit and aptitude, not race.
How can we abandon an entire group of children simply because they have a specific skin color? How do we tell those children that less is expected of them? Why are we openly declaring them less competent through lessened expectations?
They are doing it because it is easier than the right solution. They are doing it because they can.
And why is that? Where is the outrage from the usual suspects? What the education system in Florida is doing would be entirely unacceptable in the business world. It is entirely unacceptable in the education world, but no one seems to notice. If your business tried a program like I described above, not only would you get to personally meet the Reverend Al Sharpton and his friends, you would likely write them a very large check. And then the lawsuits would begin. And of course, you would deserve them.
So where is Reverend Al? Where are the protests? Where is the outrage? I really don't understand – except to say that all things are fundamentally political, and perhaps in this case, while it is a bad decision, it was apparently made by the right people.
I suppose, in the final result, the Florida Board of Education taught us a lesson it never intended; a lesson that we in the business community would be smart to ignore.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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