What? This doesn't make any sense...it would be artificial progress, the achievement gap wouldn't really be cut in half, it would just appear to be cut in half on paper. How can they even make that statement without someone pointing out this obvious fallacy?
Looks like this policy is put in place to make the school districts numbers look better, not to actually help the children.
The first sentence of the article states that this initiative is apart of Virginia's decision to opt out of No Child Left Behind, which is a federal law and would require all states to comply. Virginia is effectively making it's own education reform in-state and rebuking the federal governments educational policy.
And, while I agree that it is racist and full of inherent problems, the idea isn't that far off from something that we already have in place: affirmative action. Essentially it's holding up different standards to students of different ethnicities.
I'll risk being the asshole here but, trying to play the devil's advocate, I will say that although this is probably the worst way to do it, Virginia is responding to a real problem, which is that minorities are performing at different levels in academics. Consider the studies done on standardized testing and their racial/cultural bias. This is just an extension of that idea. This is a real problem and something should be done to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed in school.
That being said this is obviously not the way to do it. The problem is way too complex to be solved by just creating a racial grading curve.
A lot of these problems have more to do with the amount of tax revenue in a certain school district, which goes to provide for better conditions of learning for the students.
Obviously tax revenue is higher in districts that are generally populated by wealthy or middle class people (property taxes). Therefore, lots of inner city schools (or in my case in Maine, schools in rural areas which tend to face more poverty), are doing poorly because of lack of funding. This coincides with the fact that, stereotypically or not, the less well-to-do minorities (blacks, hispanics, native americans, etc.) live in poorer school districts. This problem is compounded by the fact that students with lower/working class parents fare worse when the get to school because they have had less preparation at home (someone reading to them, crunching numbers, teaching them how to speak eloquently), than those in middle to upper class families. Therefore, yes, statistically blacks and other minorities do more poorly in school.
Does this mean we should reify the connection between racial minorities and intelligence and just lower the standard on the poorly performing minorities? Definitely not. Does it mean we should consider race and performance in school. Absolutely.
Obviously I don't know how you do that though, especially being sensitive racial tensions. Any ideas?
This just brings up further questions though. If there were 50 different educational systems how would colleges weigh applicants from essentially 50 different standards of academics and pedagogical cultures?
Does an applciation from New York count different than from New Mexico?