EDITORIAL: Virginia’s race-based education

It’s time to let go of school policies that are based on skin color

Nearly five decades after the end of the Jim Crow era, school boards just can’t let go of the race issue. Last month, the Virginia State Board of Education unanimously adopted what it called “annual measurable objectives” that assumed the graduation rate for Asian children would be 14-37 percent higher than whites, Hispanics and blacks. The bureaucracy’s obsession with skin color distracts teachers from doing their job.

The Old Dominion approved the new scheme while seeking added flexibility from the federal government in the implementation of more rigorous standards for math testing. To qualify under No Child Left Behind, Virginia needs to show “greater progress for subgroups that are further behind.” That means Uncle Sam is forcing the state to treat children not as equals, but as representatives of their race. Specifically, every school is expected to pass at least 82 percent of Asian students, but only 68 percent of white children, 52 percent of Hispanics and 45 percent of blacks.

At the Oct. 25 Board of Education meeting, officials reiterated these were merely standards put in place to measure the performance of schools. “These are not expectations for students,” said state school board president David M. Foster. “Every student in the commonwealth takes the same [standards of learning] and faces the same passing rate. Every school is judged by the same expectation of passing rate regardless of demographic makeup.”

The idea is to raise blacks, Hispanics and whites to a 73 percent pass rate over the course of six years. The quota assumes Asians will always stay above 82 percent and need no improvement. The inevitable outcome of this, as with every quota system, is reverse discrimination. Teachers of necessity will focus limited resources on some students and not others based on their skin color. Asian children who happen to need extra help may find themselves left behind.

The same problem pervades all of academia, but a case pending before the Supreme Court could restrain the practice. In Fisher v. University of Texas, a young woman sued after she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin four years ago simply because she was white. During oral arguments last month, Justice Antonin Scalia zeroed in on the inherent problem of having bureaucrats at the top predetermine the racial composition of the student body. “How do they figure out that particular classes don’t have enough?” asked Justice Scalia. “Somebody walks in the room and looks them over to see who looks Asian, who looks black, who looks Hispanic? Is that — is that how it’s done?”

Liberals just can’t get beyond the racial identity checkboxes on admissions forms. It’s a distraction from what really matters in eduction. The University of Texas’ admissions program and federal law both need to be revised so that all students are treated equally.

The Washington Times

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