JACKSONVILLE Fla.-- Could the Sunshine State be stereotyping students? Duval County School Board Chair, Betty Burney says new state benchmarks suggest exactly that. The Florida Board of Education set the bar lower for African American and Hispanic students for the their 2018 education goals. Burney calls the move a step backwards.
"Students shouldn't be tracked by the color of their skin," said Burney. "All students can learn."
By 2018, the Florida Board of Education aims to have 74% of African American grade school students at or above their grade level in reading. That's noticeably lower than the 88% of White students and 90% of Asians expected to achieve the same goal.
Burney told Action News she hopes Duval has its own agenda. She says she's already disregarded the state's standards.
Burney's biggest concern is that the new benchmarks will only discourage black and Hispanic students.
"I think when you put in front of any young child you are only expecting 'X', that's what you'll get," said Burney. "Our hope is that the state will have high expectation for everyone."
The FBOE says that separating goals by race sets higher standards for sub groups that are behind. Burney couldn't disagree more. For her, the issue hits close to home.
"I'm African American and I know that all children can learn," she said. "I think we need to be clear that we expect every child to achieve and that we don't track it by race but that we hold everyone accountable and put the pressures in place to are that all children get what they deserve.