From the office of Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin:
Senator McEachin Expresses Concern and Dismay Over
Differing Educational Standards by Race and Income
Richmond –Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) today released this statement about the new Virginia Annual Measurable Objectives that have replaced the federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards that were part of No Child Left Behind. Senator McEachin said, “As a strong supporter of public education, as someone who believes the key to our democracy and to our future as a society is the strength of our public education system, I have been studying very carefully and thoroughly the transition from No Child Left Behind to Virginia standards. Having state standards that can address the particular situations and circumstances here in Virginia makes sense to me. We want to be able to craft our education system to Virginia students, not to broad national standards. We can do things better in Virginia and we can set higher, stronger standards.
“However, in light of that, I was particularly distressed and, frankly, dismayed to see that our standards separate students by race and income. Surely, we are not saying that academic ability is tied to race or family income. Surely, we want all Virginia students to achieve, to meet the highest standards, to be prepared for higher education or a skilled vocation.
“The idea that potential for achievement is tied to race is an egregious false statement that was rightly discarded on the trash heap of history. Virginia has a shameful history of cataloguing students by race and treating them differently. Surely, we are not going to even consider returning to those disgraceful times.
“When children come to school having had nutritious meals, a roof over their heads and loving adults who care for them, they can succeed, regardless of race, family income or ethnicity. Our responsibility is to ensure that every Virginia child comes to school every day having had those critical components – sufficient nutritious food, decent shelter and a family that loves and cares for him. That’s our responsibility, to help make that happen and to provide the preschool education so that every child enters kindergarten with the academic background to be prepared to learn.
“That’s what we need to be doing, not hurtling backwards to separate and categorize children by race and assign those races differing levels of success. Let’s make certain every Virginia child succeeds to the highest standards and let’s focus on what we can do to ensure that happens,” Senator McEachin concluded.