Race to the Top program spurs school-reform debate

Citing federal data, the groups say just 3 percent of the nation’s black students and less than 1 percent of Latino students are impacted by the first round of RTTT. “No state should have to compete to protect the civil rights of their children in their states,” John Jackson said.

The document also proposes creating standards for equal access to early childhood education, effective teachers, college preparatory curriculum, and high-quality resources. And it takes a critical viewpoint of the administration’s approach to turn around failing schools, including closing them or replacing much of the staff.

“Low-performing schools will not improve unless we also change the resources, conditions, and approaches to teaching and learning within the schools or their replacements,” the document states.

But the plan has one glaring omission: no Hispanic groups signed on to support it.

Raul Gonzalez from the National Council of La Raza said his organization decided not to endorse the document because there were concerns with how the groups see charter schools. The civil-rights groups want charter schools to focus more on attracting diversity than the needs of the children in their community, Gonzalez said.

“To suggest that a charter school started by community members who want to help kids in their community cannot serve 100 percent Hispanic kids in a community that’s 100 percent Hispanic–that they should be penalized for that, or they shouldn’t be allowed to open up–that doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Still, he applauded the groups for pushing for more financial support for programs that would help increase parental involvement in schools.

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