WASHINGTON — Legislation approved by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal last week to lower academic standards for high school graduation from public schools is a disservice to the state’s students, the consequences of which will have long-term moral and economic implications, according to the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of civil rights organizations advocating for high school education reform.
Only 62 percent of Louisiana’s students graduate from high school each year with a regular diploma, and in 2005, only 40 percent of black students, 47 percent of Hispanic students and 49 percent of Asian students graduated from high school compared to 63 percent of their white peers. The new program in Louisiana will allow students 15 and older to opt out of the standard curriculum with parental consent and would allow students in eighth grade to advance to ninth grade without passing the state standardized tests.
According to CHSE, lowering academic standards to increase graduation rates will disproportionately affect the state’s low-income and minority students, who will leave high school without the quality education they need to succeed in the modern workforce. The National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Scores indicates that black and low-income eighth graders in Louisiana are more than two times as likely as their white peers to read below basic levels.
“If equality in education is truly a priority for this country, we need to admonish legislation that predetermines the future of a segment of students based on an idea that they cannot achieve,” said Michael Wotorson, executive director of the Campaign for High School Equity. “Governor Jindal’s actions are despicable; this law will lock students out of economic prosperity. Instead, we need to establish education policies in Louisiana and in every state that hold schools accountable for student success and provide every student with a high-quality education that prepares them for college and the modern workforce.”
Wotorson is available immediately for interviews on this topic.
For more information on CHSE’s policy priorities visit www.highschoolequity.org.
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CHSE is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations representing communities of color that is focused on high school education reform. Members include the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Alliance for Excellent Education, National Indian Education Association, and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.
CHSE is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.