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August 28, 2003

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Jim Horne's Statement on the NAACP's Claims of Race Discrimination Against the State of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner Jim Horne made the following statement concerning the NAACP's Complaint to the Office for Civil Rights regarding education in the state of Florida:

"We have done more to close the achievement gap in Florida under the Governor's A+ Plan for Education than ever in our state's history. In 1998 only 23 percent of African American fourth graders were reading on grade level, compared to 41 percent today. More of our minority students are college bound. In fact, an additional 1067 first-time-in-college African-American students entered the state university system in 2002 compared to 1998.

"Recent news of Florida's performance on college entrance and preparatory exams is even more encouraging. The number of Hispanic and African-American AP test takers jumped by more than 25 percent from 2002 to 2003. Moreover, 16 percent of all African American high school sophomores who take the PSAT are Floridians. We have seen rising achievement on both the ACT and SAT due in part to improvement among African American students.

"While agitation may not have been the best use of words earlier today, now that I have seen the complaint, it is clear that all of the progress we have made in Florida — from the elementary level through the university level — flies in the face of the NAACP's claims of racial discrimination in our schools. It is unfortunate that, for political reasons, an organization would seek to do away with reforms that have made such a difference in the lives of those it purports to represent."