I am saying yes and no. As a person of color I must say that the education system in this country has long been stacked against us. When people make comments around the idea that minorities are unintelligent based on statistics and IQ test, people ignore the fact that white public schools and black public schools have completely different dynamics in terms of how much funding they receive therefore white schools tend to have newer text books, and are able to higher very good teachers and so on, while schools with predominately students of color don't and that is not their fault.
So until the education system supplies all public schools with the right tools and resources for their students to succeed nothing will change. While at some point in the future I hope there is no need to lower the standards for any group of people it is not fair to test minority students who go to unsuccessful public schools and compare them against white students who go to better funded schools and make an analysis that minority students are somehow less intelligent. Saying that we should all be tested the same is unfair and gives white students an advantage and a more likely chance at succeeded and going to college. White public schools in white areas have more money, its a simple fact, and that is why their students succeed more, not because they are smarter.
Arguing that we should all be tested the same is naive in believing that we're all treated the same because that is not the case when one truly looks into the dynamic inequality between white and black public schools. Saying that we should all be tested the same is like saying there's going to be a recital for the piano course and the level two piano player and the level five piano player are both going to be given a level six piece to play, who is going to do better? There needs to be more resources in place for the level two player to get up to level five.
I am ok with changing the standards and priorities for people who don't speak English. They need to be taught the language to succeed. However, it is completely wrong to create standards based on race. I do not believe that any law should mention a specific race, ethnicity, gender, etc.
I don't agree with standards that are lower for minorities because it seems to be an excuse to give a lower quality education to those oft considered undesirable in the South and it seems to be steeped in racist assumptions such as that members of such groups simply cannot achieve as much as white people. Plus, one would think that this violates the precedent set by Brown vs Board of Education, which determined that separate but equal, was not true equality. Well, now they have moved the division from between schools to within the classroom, but I see little difference - one curriculum for affluent able white kids (if you read the article, lower standards would also be applied to the disabled, ESL, and lower SES) and everyone else gets something inferior.
Now, in principle, I do not oppose some differentiated instruction, but not when it is an across the board lower standard. The goal should be getting every pupil to perform to the best of his or her ability, race and SES being irrelevant, and disability and ESL requiring accommodation on an individual basis in an attempt to help the kid achieve, not to just keep them at a baseline below everyone else. If you ensure that only the white, able, affluent kids get a sufficient education, then it is a nice way of perpetuating the current divisions and inequalities in our society - make sure 'undesirables' lack the ability to challenge the system through achievement or resistance. It is disgusting. If this was a few decades ago women would be on that list.
Since Alabama is lowering standards on minorities, that is essentially what they are going to get. This is much like parenting, if you expect your child to do well and s/he knows it, they will probably do better than without that encouragement. This is essentially make teachers and educators put more of a focus on white children and less of minorities. This decision is horrible.
Because education should never be about race, but about a person's academic achievement and willingness to learn. I personally think minorities should be outraged and try harder in schools because they are basically saying they can't learn as quickly as the majority. I really think that is biased and unfair. I guess if minorities want this kind of treatment than that is saying a lot about their priorities, I hope this is not true. But I think lowering the standards is doing the public a disservice.