JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- The Florida State Board of Education has set new reading standards, and Action News has learned they are based on skin color.
"We may be returning to some old racial ideals," said UNF Dean of Education and Human Services Dr. Larry Daniel.
That's the new fear in Florida after the State Board of Education released benchmarks for student reading success. It's setting different success levels for students based on the color of their skin.
"To differentially set the goals on the front end suggests that we may not expect as much of some groups of students as others," Dr. Daniel said.
By 2018, the board is aiming to have 74 percent of African American grade school kids reading at or above grade level. It is set significantly higher for white students at 88 percent. And 90 percent of Asians are expected to achieve that same goal.
"It should be flat across the board to me. Equal. It should be equal," said mom Sharon Barnes.
Parents like Barnes are outraged. She worries what repercussions this will have on young and impressionable minds.
"As African American kids, it gives them little hope when you do stuff like that. It gives little hope for their future and as a parent that's a great concern," she said.
Michael Harrell couldn't agree more.
"It just sends a message to me as a parent that we don't care about your child. And that's horrible," he said.
Dr. Daniel says he doesn't think the state board had ill intentions. But the result is lowering self esteem and even he thinks this needs to be reconsidered.
"I think it's sending a very wrong message."
In Duval County, school board chair Betty Burney hopes her county will come out saying they want to achieve higher and that they want all kids to learn at high levels.