"The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations"

Jerrold Jensen writes in the Foothills Sun Gazette, "Former President George W. Bush occasionally used the expression “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Interpreted, it means we often look at people or places and an inborn bias causes us to form an unfair expectation of lower results. Studies show that if leaders or instructors have low expectations, the actual results of their followers or students will be lower."  Jensen's commentary comes with data showing that a high school where nearly 80 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced meals, Dinuba High School in Tulare County, California, has 65 percent of its 2018 graduates deemed "college/career ready". This is much higher than the average over the entire state of California, which is 42 percent.  So with this, Jensen remarks, "...Dinuba High School just blew away the competition when measuring college/career readiness. It appears that leadership expectations are especially high—and are being achieved—in some largely impoverished communities where a high percentage of their students are also classified as “English Learners.”"

When a higher bar is set, students can rise to the higher demand. All students need to be given the opportunity to draw for themselves higher goals. Of course, this is easier said than done. On one hand, we want students to succeed, but we are often anxious when we see children struggle. Children in impoverished households do need our support, but this must not come with lower expectations. Students cannot succeed if we simply jump to the conclusion that they cannot succeed right at the beginning. Our expectations of our students decide what we are going to teach. Our expectations decide what these students are going to learn. Sadly, lowering expectations may actually be more widespread as suggested by the following cartoon:

Above copied from Zanetti Cartoons



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