Toward a colorblind America

Today, Liam turns in a nice NRO piece on Fairfax County, Virginia's, recently published report that finds that the "'moral character and ethical judgment' of its white and Asian pupils is more developed than that of its black and Hispanic pupils."

These conclusions, drawn from hosts of disparate data about attendance, disciplinary infractions, and teacher observations, have the unfortunate characteristic of being both offensive and useless. Fairfax finds that its black students have more character flaws than its white students--now what?

Liam goes on to argue that No Child Left Behind, by initiating this fetish with "disaggregated data," is to blame for deepening America's obsession with race--and that Congress ought to make NCLB colorblind by focusing on the progress of individual students--not racial groups--over time.

I agree, Liam, that moving to a "growth model" could help move us beyond raw racial calculations (even though schools will find that many of the individual students who need to make the most progress are African-American and Hispanic). But I still think our country is better off having faced NCLB's racial breakdowns and the local conversations they've forced about the achievement gap. Yes, Fairfax County has taken it several steps too far, but other communities in America have faced up to their achievement gaps for the first time ever, and that's worthy of celebration, not scorn.

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