The Politics of Racism in Florida : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Hello My Internet Church Family,

I am certain that you all have heard that the state of Florida has denied 13,000 high school seniors a high school diploma because these students failed a "competency" examination which the state mandated. I have heard from one source that the students can take this examination up to 5 times or as many times as they want. I also understand that these students met all the academic requirements for their individual schools. Most of these students are minority students.

Does it seem rational to you that if the state of Florida has 13,000 students who have successfully completed the academic curriculums at its high schools and are still unable to pass that this result is an indication of a problem with its school system? Should these test results be used as diagnostic measures or for punitive measures? Do we expect institutions like schools which have a long tradition to turn around immediately?

It is for this reason that I say that the politics of institutional racism are at work again. Thank about these 13,000 individuals who cannot go to college now because they have not received a high school diploma. Will they be allowed to get a job requiring a high school diploma? It is not beneficial to our society to have 13,000 people not gainfully employed or in a training curriculum.

One of the teachers who is a state representative agrees with me. Another teacher who is a state representative justifies Florida's action by stating that businesses will not come to Florida if the state does not have a good school system. The state representative who agrees with me said that Florida ranks 47 in the nation in terms of school funding. Is that a clue as to why the students performance was so bad? It seems that the bottom line is money and money is the basis for power in America. Hence, if you have less minorities with High School Diplomas then they ultimately have less earning power. Some have suggested an economic boycott of Florid. I pray that the other states will take a more rational approach to the reform of their educational curriculums. This is the second time that Florida has reared its ugly racism. Shame! Shame! Shame! on you Florida for your socially irresponsible policies.


-- Anonymous, June 04, 2003


Jazzman: As a parent of two kids ages 7 & 9 in the FL public school system, I have a particular interest in this topic. The fundamental problem with low academic performance among black FL public schol students rests not with institutional racism, FCAT, JEB Bush or a lack of K-12 funding. The problem is reduced to two uncomfortable truths:

1. personal responsibility

2. parental involvement

The FCAT is a test designed to demonstrate basic mastery in reading and mathematics for 10th grade competence. The students who have failed this test have had 6 prior attempts to pass. I do not find any evidence of bias in a system which offers multiple opportunities to pass. If anything I believe the test should be for 12th grade competence. If more students would take their studies seriously and parents would become more actively involved in PTA's and with their child's development we wouldn't be having this conversation. The uncomfortable truth is too many of our black parents have abdicated their parental duty by becoming estranged from their kids in the learning process and have erroneously concluded that the "job of the schools is to educate my children". My parental philosophy has always been that the person responsible for the education of my children is not JEB Bush, Senator Graham or the principal of my children's school. The person who is ultimately responsible is Bill Dickens (my wife Jennie also)!!

The basic formula for eduational success (respect, discipline and intellectual curiosity) must be cultivated at home BEFORE enrolling in a school. Standardized tests are a part of our culture. Unless you are applying to a college which uses an open-admisssion policy you must take the SAT or ACT. You will not get into any reputable graduate program without doing well on the GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT. I support the FCAT because it provides a framework for accountability and evaluation. Any student who cannot demonstrate mastery of sophomoric skills has clearly betrayed his alleged "12th grade" education. Alternatives do exist (GED) if the student is still interested in pursuing his/her post-secondary schooling. Calls for boycotting the FCAT are simply wasteful activities because they deflect attention away from the real issues. Opponents of the FCAT are sending incorrect signals to our youth about condoning mediocrity. This signal is pernicious to the intellectual health of children. The real shame is the reprehensible behavior of certain politicians who attempt to politicize a situation when politics is not needed. QED

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2003

Your post raises additional questions for me. Of the 13,000 students involved, how many were truants? How many speak English as a first language? Sadly enough, it also raises the issue of how can a high school issue a passing grade to a student who cannot pass a competency test. Are the schools giving students passing grades to usher them out of the school system?

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2003


As an educator, I have seen this throughout my career and you are perfectly right. Now that I am retired and substitute throughout the system in which I live, I am in and out of schools across the system and am often outraged by what I often see.

The schools on one side of town have planetariums, English as a second language, computer labs and challenge programs which the other side of town does not. Although students are bused to these facilities from other schools, since they are not located in the school which they attend, which students do you think benefit the most?

The times in which we live require some parents to work two full time jobs, just to provide for their families and to make ends meets. When they do this as best they can and see that their children regularly attend school, it is the schools responsibility to see that the child succeeds. Indeed parents pay good money in tax dollars to make it so. Blatant and open racism is the reason they do not.

If the problem is behavioral, as many claim, the schools have paid personnel and programs to correct this as well. But the red tape for entering such programs is controlled by the states.

My system gave all students the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. This proved to be built in failure for many as well because of the cultural difference of Georgia and Iowa where the test was normed. The system finally realized this and discontinued the test, only after too many students for several years have fallen through the cracks.

Tests simply say to the one being tested, do you know what I know? If there are marked cultural and economic difference, the answer is often, NO, I do not know and I shall never know unless I have been taught. The teaching of such knowledge rests primarily on the schools who have tax paid personnel and facilities to assimilate these skills. Granted these facilities and personnel are under funded by our local governments and our states. Too often this happens along economic and cultural lines where parents are working and cannot volunteer their services and time to make the differences null and void.

All schools within a state are certified by the Certification Board of that state. If any state has adopted a Criterion Reference Test of its own which students having finished all academic requirements cannot pass, then the schools and the state government are to blame. Too often it is economic and racial and it is also by design.

To add insult to injury this racism has also permeated the church. Recently two ministries on TBN aired portrayals of black men playing Satan and white men playing Christ. Any psychologist will tell you that this is psychological racism in disguise. Reverend Rogers just did a memorial service where she and her daughter were only clergy to attend.

Then we even have the audacity to do it to ourselves explaining it away or lifting up "Ebony Magazine" style weddings that cost more than that of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Then we say how holy it was and how blessed we were to see.

Jesus was born in a stable and bade us feed the poor. He said to the Rich Young Ruler, "Sell all and follow me." We sing, " Not for ease or worldly pleasure nor for fame my prayer shall be; Gladly will I toil and suffer, Only let me walk with Thee." But, like that Rich Young Ruler we don't mean a word of it and God who judges is definitely not pleased.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2003

Moderation questions? read the FAQ