Amid a heated national debate over how racism-related topics are handled in public schools, test scores and other data indicate that black students in Brevard County are doing less well on the job. school than their white peers.
At a Brevard school board meeting on Tuesday, Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Mark Mullins explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected student performance at the local level.
Data on the ‘COVID-19 slide’ that educators fear has so far been limited. The standardized tests that have been released for the 2020-2021 school year are the results of the third grade English and Language Arts tests. These have shown a 4% drop in success rates for children.
But data presented by Mullins for the 2018-19 school year showed stark disparities between white college students and students of other races. It also showed deficits for disabled and low-income students.
In the 2018-2019 school year, white students had an A average, Hispanic students had a B average, African American students had a C average, and economically disadvantaged students of all races had B averages. .
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In Brevard, 68% of white students have reached an academic level or above on the state’s English and language arts tests, while 26% of black students have. Seventy-three percent of non-economically disadvantaged students were reading at grade level in 2018-19, while 48% of economically disadvantaged students were. Students with disabilities achieved academic grades 27% of the time, compared to 67% for their non-disabled peers. Asian students outperformed white students in English and Language Arts, with 80% of them meeting state standards.
The data was presented during a tense national conversation about how African American history is taught in schools. Conservatives across the country say they are concerned that teachers are sowing racial divisions by teaching that America is inherently racist.
Several black community leaders were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, including members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and members of the Student Achievement Councils at several schools in the area, and said the data showed that black students were falling through the cracks and needed extra support.
“I challenge you, however, these problems would not be solved without a strategy,” said Bernard Bryant, SAC member for several local schools. âI challenge you today, school board members, not to be distracted, please. We know there are cultural issues today, but these children need your help, and I beg you to help.
The Florida Board of Education on Wednesday approved new state standards changing how civic education, government, and subjects such as the Holocaust will be taught in public schools, with the stated goal of teach students “a sense of civic pride” and require them to “study primary source documents to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the American Republic and the root cause of American exceptionalism.
Last month, State Representative Randy Fine held a press conference with conservative parent group Moms for Liberty to show what they claimed was proof critical race theory was being taught in public schools. by Brevard.
Critical Race Theory is a framework of legal scholarship in which racism against people of color is pervasive and a cornerstone of the American legal system and of society as a whole.
Fine pointed to internal communications among staff arguing that race should be considered when disciplining students and that black students do less well in less diverse schools.
A former teacher at the press conference described BPS’s diversity training as âprogrammingâ based on Marxist principles. Fine also criticized the school district for hiring an equity director in October 2020.
Brevard Public Schools Board member Jennifer Jenkins said she felt “sickened” by the statistics and said the data Mullins presented on Tuesday was proof of the need for the post of headmaster. actions.
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âLately there’s been a public conversation about our director of equity and diversity, and why should we have someone like that here, and I think this presentation really supports that,â Jenkins said.
At a separate press conference on Friday, Brevard County Democratic President Pamela Castellana posted publicly available data from the Florida Department of Education showing that black students at Brevard public schools are less likely to get good grades or to be referred to as “gifted” and are more likely to be sanctioned or diagnosed with a disability. It also showed deficits for economically disadvantaged students.
According to DOE data, African American students make up about 15% of the BPS population, but over 30% of expulsions.
Castellana said these statistics highlight the need for a chief equity officer, she said.
Rep. Fine disputes the word ‘equity,’ said Castellana. “He thinks that equal access to education is sufficient for black children. But we can clearly see from the statistics that there has something wrong with the outcome of the educational experience for black students. â
Fine, who had returned from a three-week vacation and had yet to review the school board meeting or Castellana’s remarks, said on Friday that unless the school board and Castellana’s data was statistically checked for variables other than race – such as disability and economic disadvantage – to assume that students underachieved because of their race was inherently racist.
“You may have shared with me the best evidence for the use of critical race theory in Brevard public schools.” Fine said. âCritical Race Theoryâ¦ looks like income doesn’t matter; your parents’ education level doesn’t matterâ¦ We’re just going to look at race. It’s a theory. criticism of the race and it’s racist, âFine said.
Bailey Gallion is the educational journalist for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Gallion at 321-242-3786 or [email protected]