The Florida Board of Education has a history of lowering educational standards and has now come under-fire for doing so based upon a student’s race. CBS Tampa reports, “The Florida State Board of Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race.”
“On Tuesday [October 9, 2012], the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent. It also measures by other groupings, such as poverty and disabilities, reported the Palm Beach Post,” states CBS Tampa.
This decision has raised eyebrows, some calling it racist. But is it racism or reality? Is lowering goals the right way to deal with student achievement in reading and math?
This issue is not new, rather it has been swept under the rug since 1994. Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray in their seminal book on cognitive ability The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life state, “The question is how to redistribute in ways that increase the chances for people at the bottom of society to take control of their lives, to be engaged meaningfully in their communities, and to find valued places for themselves.”
Herrnstein and Murray found, “Ethnic differences in higher education, occupations, and wages are strikingly diminished after controlling for IQ. Often they vanish. In this sense, America has equalized these central indicators of social success.”
Herrnstein and Murray asked, “What are the odds that a black or Latino with an IQ of 103 – the average IQ of all high school graduates – completed high school? The answer is that a youngster from either minority group had a higher probability of graduating from high school than a white, if all of them had IQs of 103: The odds were 93 percent and 91 percent for blacks and Latinos respectively, compared to 89 percent for whites.”
The key factor in setting goals is IQ. Is it time for Florida to lead the way and reintroduce IQ testing for all students?
Herrnstein and Murray concluded:
- We have tried to point out that a small segment of the population accounts for such a large proportion of those [social] problems. To the extent that the [social] problems of this small segment are susceptible to social-engineering solutions at all, should be highly targeted.
- The vast majority of Americans can run their own lives just fine, and [public] policy should above all be constructed so that it permits them to do so.
- Much of the policy toward the disadvantaged starts from the premise that interventions can make up for genetic or environmental disadvantages, and that premise is overly optimistic.
- Cognitive ability, so desperately denied for so long, can best be handled – can only be handled – by a return to individualism.
- Cognitive partitioning will continue. It cannot be stopped, because the forces driving it cannot be stopped.
- Americans can choose to preserve a society in which every citizen has access to the central satisfactions of life. Its people can, through an interweaving of choice and responsibility, create valued places for themselves in their worlds.
Herrnstein and Murray found, “Inequality of endowments, including intelligence, is a reality.”
“Trying to pretend that inequality does not really exist has led to disaster. Trying to eradicate inequality with artificially manufactured outcomes has led to disaster. It is time for America once again to try living with inequality, as life is lived: understanding that each human being has strengths and weaknesses, qualities to admire and qualities we do not admire, competencies and in-competencies, assets and debits; that the success of each human life is not measured externally but internally; that of all the rewards we can confer on each other, the most precious is a place as a valued fellow citizen,” found Herrnstein and Murray.
Finally, Herrnstein and Murray wrote, “Of all the uncomfortable topics we have explored, a pair of the most uncomfortable ones are that a society with a higher mean IQ is also likely to be a society with fewer social ills and brighter economic prospects, and that the most effective way to raise the IQ of a society is for smarter women to have higher birth rates than duller women.” Shocking words in 1994 and indeed even more so today. Is it time to have a national public debate on cognitive abilities?