Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Reality of the Education Status Quo: Lower Expectations for Black Students

Public education is supposed to provide an equal education to all students, regardless of race or family income.

But parents and education reformers have long recognized that this is not the reality of our current education system.  Public charter schools, open enrollment, traditional public schools, magnet schools, and private school choice have been tirelessly fought for to allow low-income families to escape failing public schools where achievement is low and violence is often high.  After all, our equal system wasn’t supposed to determine a child’s future because based on a ZIP code.

But opponents to school choice have long claimed that instead of providing educational options to low-income families whose students end up at the bottom of the achievement gap, we should invest more money into fixing schools.  Years later, our failing schools are still failing—and there are more of them than ever.

We need a robust public education system that can serve our children; and we need educational choices for families that feel their children are being left behind.  Because the reality is, the status quo is leaving many of our children behind.

And now, defenders of the status quo are lowering expectations on academic performance—but only for students that are black, Hispanic, or poor.  Under waivers to 27 states, the goals over the next five years are lower for black, Hispanic, and poor students than they are for white and Asian students.

Parents have called this what it is—a prejudice. 

“It’s ridiculous to even believe that if you expect less from someone, you’re going to get more,” said Alicia Rucker, a D.C. mother who sends her children to public schools, according to The Washington Post.

Emma Brown of The Post writes that for Rucker, “it’s impossible not to see targets that differ by race and income as a form of prejudice—what George W. Bush famously called ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’”

Policymakers and administrators have no business expecting less from some students, but their families absolutely deserve the right to choose a school and an educational environment that believes that all children —regardless of their race, gender, or any other circumstances—can achieve academic success.

But don’t suggest that to opponents to education reform, because remember, our public education system provides an equal education.

…as long as your child is not black, Hispanic, or poor.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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