Gov. Rick Scott distances himself from race-based student achievement goals

Florida’s controversial plan that pegged different goals for different races has triggered more fallout.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature’s Hispanic Legislative Caucus have both distanced themselves from the plan, and asked for some revision.

The six-year road map included academic goals for 2012-18 in reading and math for different groups of students, separated by race, income, disability and English language fluency.

In a statement Tuesday, Scott said it “did not clearly articulate our shared commitment to fully close that achievement gap for all students, regardless of race, geography, gender or other circumstance.”

He asked the board to “more completely incorporate” that into its plan.

Later in the week, state Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican and chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, penned a letter to Florida’s Board of Education in which he wrote “we would just like to ensure, as duly elected representatives of Hispanics, that those benchmarks are not tied to race or ethnicity.”

In trying to defend the state’s action, Board of Education chair Gary Chartrand reiterated that the board wants to eliminate achievement gaps and eventually have all students performing at grade level, but to do so, they have to acknowledge “different starting points among groups of students today.”

“We can only close the achievement gap in Florida if we are willing to have an honest conversation about what it will take to get all students to that level of success,” Chartrand said.