Students at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove were divided by race this week for what the school called "heritage assemblies." The gatherings were designed to motivate students to do better on standardized achievement tests.
That upset Tracy and Herbert Houston, a mixed-race couple who say their son was confused about which rally to attend.
"My son texted me and asked me which one to go to," Tracy Houston told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. "He didn't know where to go because I've never raised him to be black or white. … I tell my children they are part of the human race."
Students at Laguna could technically go to whichever assembly they wanted, but the rallies were designated along racial lines --African Americans in the gym, Pacific Islanders in the theater, Latinos in the multipurpose room, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Principal Doug Craig said dividing students by race allowed teachers to talk about test scores without singling out one group in a negative way.
"Is it racist? I don't believe it is," Craig told the Bee.
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Such race-based assemblies have been practiced in other California schools that are struggling to close student achievement gaps.