Guest column: Student achievement goals must not be set by race

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Guest commentary

My conscience does not permit me to let the very people who are publicly funded to improve the educational performance of all our K-12 students get away with endorsing the setting of student achievement goals by race.

Reference is made to the practice of reporting results by race and to the gaps in these results between the three main racial groups, with whites at the top, Latinos next and then blacks. Results are facts that should guide our efforts to improve the lower-level performers up to a common higher standard. Instead they are being used to set goals which justify rather than challenge the results.

On this basis, lower goals are being set for Latinos and blacks than for whites. The message we are sending the two former groups is that they are inherently intellectually inferior.

What is expected of students is what they deliver.

The new thinking can logically only reinforce the status quo and is downrightly racist.

The gap has long been recognized. It has attracted much talk, but little if any action. I know because I have been in the struggle.

Some years ago, with the help of funds from a few friends, I helped to establish an after-school program for black students at one of our elementary schools. Results showed that these students performed better than their peers who did not participate in the program.

The school authorities could not find the funds to continue at that school, let alone extend the program to other schools.

I am sure the folks in education know what needs to be done to close the gap, but among other things the will to do so is just not there. Why else would the gap be as wide as ever? Because little has been expected of minority students, they have delivered little.

Part of the negative attitude stems from the racist notion that minorities are intellectually inferior.

The achievements of my family and millions of other blacks and Latinos have given the lie to this justification for relative inaction toward eliminating the gap.

Let me reiterate at least what needs to be done:

1. Set one common goal for all students.

2. Provide appropriate timetables for students who are behind, to catch up.

3. Provide the programs and resources to enable them to do so.

I have no doubt that given the proper overall setting, minority students will rise to the occasion.

Talk is cheap. For its own good it is time for the community to get involved.

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