The Soft Bigotry

…of low expectations:

Nothing works to destroy self-esteem quite like telling a black child he will be held to a far lower standard than whites, Asians, or Hispanics. Recognition that poverty plays a role in lower test scores is one thing; codifying that difference by telling students that you are expected to underachieve compared to other children is tantamount to surrender. The problem is too large and too complex to solve so we will hide our failure by simply dumbing down the standards by which we judge our own progress.

The bigotry actually isn’t all that soft.

18 thoughts on “The Soft Bigotry”

  1. And they do it precisely so that people belonging to those groups will feel powerless to succeed without the State’s special help and protection.

    It’s revolting how many people claiming to be Americans are willing to be livestock rather than citizens.

  2. Children living in poverty have several issues. Often their parents have a low level of education which means they cannot expect much academic help or guidance at home. They also have other issues. They may have less time to study at home, their parents cannot afford private tutoring, they may have nutrition issues, etc. However in my opinion this does not mean they should be required to know less than other students. What it does mean in my opinion is that the state should try to help reduce these handicaps so they can perform better.

      1. The article sounds like something out of The Onion. Caucasians getting an easier time than Asians because they are dumber? Heh.

        I’m against differentiated evaluation of people because of either race, gender, or socioeconomic background. Either you know something or you don’t. Simple as that. So called positive discrimination is just as stupid as any other sort of discrimination. In the end what you get with these schemes is a bunch of incompetent people entering the workforce ahead of better performing people. I had an interesting conversation with someone which lived in former Yugoslavia about this once. They had such a Byzantine system of quotas to ensure all minorities were properly represented or whatever that I initially even found the system hard to believe.

    1. It doesn’t help when you have a segment of society that says someone who works hard in school is “Acting white.” I saw that first hand many years ago when I taught in a small town high school. The student who was “acting white” went on to bigger and better things. He’s now a surgeon and associate professor at a major medical school.

      1. Larry,
        I used to work with a young black guy who was always talking about how hard life was, how hard HE had to work to make it, blah, blah, blah.

        His whole thing came apart when one of his college roommates blew the whistle on him. The guy who talked about a black man’s burdens, was actually from a well to do family, mom AND dad were professors at one of the states universities.

        After his ‘secret’ was out he transferred to another office, where I guess he could keep up the front.

        At that same job, my traveling partner was a young black man, mom was a teacher and dad was an engineer, and he made no bones about it, he was quite proud of his parents. But when he used to go home to Cleveland he used to catch a line of crap from the guys he grew up around because he was a Sell Out. He used to tell them to go back down to the HS and play some hoops. Or at least he did the day I was there with him. [I cut out the flowery inner city vernacular he used]

        After I learned about the sell out thing I started to understand the first guy I wrote about. But why not just tell people who disapprove of your life choices to urinate up a length of heavy cord? Why is that whole backward, uneducated, broke taking handouts lifestyle a better way to be in their minds?

        And don’t think I’m saying it’s just blacks, I know some whites who live that way too. I just don’t see the drag ’em down to our low life level attitude outside of the African American community.

        1. Because change is hard, and the ego resists change so it can keep the status quo. When you come from so far behind to do so well, folks will resent you as a defense mechanism so they don’t have to change. It’s easier to deal with once you understand that it’s completely irrational. You have to be willing to cut ties with anyone who will disrespect you for succeeding.

          1. Titus,

            And if you are a young kid, it’s very hard to buck the huge forces and know what choice is the best. That’s where some adult must come into the scene and give that kid the understanding about making one’s own choices and the strength to make that choice regardless of pressure.

            Doesn’t always happen.

          2. Gregg,

            There’s a word for such people, “fathers.” Prog social policy has all but destroyed that concept in the black community. Ergo, it almost never happens there.

        2. Socially, I think it’s a sort of cheaters’ pact like some I’ve seen in school, work, and such. If everyone is in on the cheat, then nobody has to work hard.

    2. “What it does mean in my opinion is that the state should try to help reduce these handicaps so they can perform better.”

      The neat thing about that approach is that it gives you a handy metric to measure the success or failure of the policy being implemented. If grades improve (and as long as that isn’t because of grade inflation) then the policy can be seen as working. If they don’t, then its time to rake another look at what you are doing.

  3. The plan could actually make sense if it was being done by sensible people. Sensible being, “Here’s where we are now and here is where we need to be by this date.” Not holding different races to different standards, but expecting different percentages to pass to the next level based on historical data could be understandable.

    If all students were held to the same standards to graduate each grade, then a realistic striving to increase the percentage of each race’s graduates would be reasonable. Graduating students beyond their capabilities is a fast track to disaster, which is the current norm.

    In the 70s, I learned foundation layout with an almost all white company. In the 80s and 90s, I learned concrete finishing from an all black crew. In the 2000s till now, I am working an all Hispanic crew. In each time, I was working with the best available in my area.

    My experience with black people in the work force is that many of them are the absolute best. They had to be to overcome the roadblocks thrown up by both the white and black population in this area. The lower expectation takes serious strength of character to overcome. The top quality black concrete finishers I worked with in the 80s and 90s have not been followed by the entitled younger generation. The previous generation knew they had to perform to get and keep work, and they did. Many of them started their own companies and were very competitive.

    I say hold all students to the same standard, and understand that some races and income groups will have trouble reaching it.

    1. “If all students were held to the same standards to graduate each grade,….”

      Which of course, requires a standardized test….a concept that drives the teacher’s union insane.

  4. This whole thing is abhorrent including some of the remarks here. People are individuals, period. Yes, they come from different backgrounds some of which includes handicaps. It doesn’t matter. You treat everybody as an individual. The schools have a responsibility to teach all of their students.

    If it’s about evaluating the schools, they still don’t need to break down different classifications of students. Grade the schools on the improvement of their students rather than absolute achievement and you’ve taken account of handicaps in different demographics without having to classify students.

  5. Grading the schools on improvement is difficult, you get the “teach to the test” philosophy. I suppose teaching to the test isn’t actually bad as long as the test is comprehensive.

    Anyway, the guidelines suck. If 90% of Asian students are at grade level or above in math and 75% of Black students at grade level or above, the school would shift resources to help Asians (their target is 92%). Of course, the easiest way to teach effectively with these limits would be to segregate the classes–teach the Asian students the hard stuff and the black students the remedial stuff.

    Note that none of the categories are allowed to go below 50%. Even the black classes aren’t allowed to have more than 26% below grade level in math. So, how are they supposed to calculate grade level? Maybe “grade level” assumes that performance is a normal distribution and that +- 0.5 standard deviations is at grade level. That would put 69% of the curve at grade level or above. Not quite Lake Wobegon–only most of their students are above average.

    1. “. Of course, the easiest way to teach effectively with these limits would be to segregate the classes–teach the Asian students the hard stuff and the black students the remedial stuff.”

      Even better would be to segregate the advanced students in the advanced classes, and the remedial students into remedial classes and forget the statistics. To me the statistics just predict the average pass rate and not the individual capabilities. Just because Asian students on average do better is not a good enough reason to send qualified black students to remedial classes.

      1. But of course that’s not the law that they passed. The law they passed was a typically racist POS from (perhaps) well-meaning do-gooders. As to what they should do, I’m not really certain. Some kids can’t be educated. Some kids won’t be educated. Some kids perhaps could be, but not with the traditional regimen. It’s a waste of time and resources to try to educate the first two groups (worse, people who don’t want to be educated can make it more difficult for people who do to learn).

        Maybe it’d be nice to have a multi-track system (advanced, normal, remedial). You’ll get the occasional tragedies where kids are routed into the wrong track, but it seems pretty clear that that system would be better than what is proposed.

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