Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The issue of race remains so volatile in America that even good intentions can create tensions and PR faux pas. That is what happened here. The Virginia education board is proposing to change testing standards for Black and Latino children because they are not up to the level of Asians and whites. This has enraged some Black legislators who say that it embeds a perception that Black and Latino children are less than equal. It has incensed some Virginia education board members who also are black because they maintain that scores are what they are and there is no use trying to compare Black and Latino children to better-testing Asians and Whites. There is no right answer for a situation like this but the PR fall-out is severe. Perhaps the Chief Justice is right. The way to stop discrimination by race is to stop discriminating by race, but that begs the question of how to help those who are not performing as well as others. Are they consigned to a lower class? That is the fear, and should it happen, the education system will have failed. Teachers maintain that lower performing students need more attention, but more attention requires more resources and budgets are already stressed. So the problem continues without resolution -- and the fight continues.