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ACLU Sues Florida For Low Graduation Numbers In A Benchmarking Action

By Nikki Weingartner     Mar 19, 2008 in World
The American Civil Liberties Union has brought forth the first-ever type lawsuit against Palm Beach County School District for the violation of providing a quality education, claiming there are not enough students graduating from high school.
In conjunction with parents and students from a West Palm Beach school district, the ACLU has launched a lawsuit alleging that the Palm Beach County School District is not providing a quality education to all students as stated in the Florida Constitution.
This benchmarking lawsuit claims that despite some conflicting number crunching on the district's part, the number of students that actually graduated from the district to be somewhere between 53 and 67 percent over the course of the past seven years.
It goes into how those numbers are comprised of mostly "Caucasian" graduates, lending to the belief that African-American and Hispanic students in the Palm Beach district are not being provided similar quality educational provisions, according to a news article.
The class-action suit lays out details of other districts who allegedly have mirroring student make-up as far as demographics and socioeconomic status, both of which are contributing factors to student success when it comes to drop out and traditional graduation numbers.
In addition to low graduation rates among all students in Palm Beach County, there is a significant disparity between the graduation rates of African-American and Hispanic students and those of white students. For the past five years, the gap between black and white graduation rates has remained approximately 30%, while the gap between Hispanic and white graduation rates has been about 20%. According to the ACLU’s legal challenge, the stark difference in graduation rates along racial lines is evidence enough of the school district’s constitutional violations.
The ACLU is not seeking monetary or punitive actions against the district, only that it:
improve its graduation rates without pushing students out of the system
Although needed improvement in any school district is not something that is lacking, trying to alter the lifestyles associated with what is an already national issue might be quite a challenge. National graduation averages in America are around 65 percent (give or take a couple of percentage points) and the national graduation average for minority groups is just over 50 percent, both of which are in line with the numbers cited in the ACLU lawsuit against the Florida district.
Dropout rates within the Hispanic and African-American cultures are quite common, at a rate of just over 10 and 20 percent respectively, as are high dropout rates in areas of the socioeconomically disadvantaged. These trends create a cyclical pattern in that high school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, poor and involved in crime.
Certain groups may have a higher rate of transient lifestyle patterns, which also is a significant contributing factor to their ability to receive a quality education and consequently, graduate.
Individuals who receive a high school diploma have a higher income potential, as it is a minimum requirement for most career positions as well as post-secondary education.
Should the ACLU be allowed to go through with a lawsuit that claims better education for "all" as its main goal, even though its focal point is on the minority groups and their national inability to stay in school or perform?
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