As reported in the Washington Post article D.C. schools argue that, “this new approach is a way to speed achievement for black, Latino and low-income students” in an effort to close the achievement gap. It’s not exactly clear how through lowered expectations schools expect to get more out of students. And how is expecting less from them going to help them in school or in life? Frankly, this is nothing more than thinly veiled prejudice, or what the Washington Post notes George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Of course there are additional challenges for children in low-income areas, most of whom happen to be minorities, but that does not mean that they are incapable of learning. It certainly does not mean that they are incapable of meeting or even exceeding the same expectations as those for white and/or wealthier children. If these separate and unequal expectations are to become the norm, how do we ever expect to close the achievement gap? The problem can only be solved through the hard work and dedication of great teachers, who also instill in their students the belief that they are capable of anything. Mediocrity should never be the goal. Excellence should always be the goal – for ALL children.