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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Checking Steve Wise's claim about the graduation gap between African-American and white males



One of the attacks against SB 736 -- the controversial teacher tenure and merit pay proposal that passed the state Senate last week -- is that the bill is attempting to make sweeping changes to an education system that doesn't need it.

Florida's education system, after all, was just ranked fifth in the nation by Education Week.

But state Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, SB 736's prime sponsor, said the ranking shouldn't stop the state from pursuing major education reforms. "We're doing a great job. Yeah, we're fifth in the country," Wise said in passionate comments on the Senate floor shortly before the bill passed 26-12. "We're doing a great job. We've got great graduation rates.

"That's if you get there," he said. "The dirty little secret we don't talk about is, where are the black boys? It's awful, it's absolutely pathetic what the graduation rate is for African-American boys. ... We have seven of the 10 worst school districts in America on graduation of black boys. We've kept it a secret."

PolitiFact Florida pulls back the curtain on Wise's claim.

[Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2011 10:42am]


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