Monday, August 31, 2015

"The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations"

You don't hear much about real societal issues when it's far simpler to scapegoat teachers.  Statistically linking low test scores to increasing childhood poverty is supposedly no more than the "soft bigotry of low expectations" to some.  Suggesting that poverty poses any obstacle to success or that hungry kids need something more than "grit" makes you a Mister-Softee bigot.

Any solution more costly than breaking unions and firing teachers is "soft" bigotry at its best!  Why beg for smaller class size?  Why attack poverty...when you can attack the teachers of the poor?  Didn't Jeb and George Bush say it best?:

Now, some say it is unfair to hold disadvantaged children to rigorous standards. I say it is discrimination to require anything less—the soft bigotry of low expectations.  - George W. Bush

The challenges facing children, and here I do not refer to the Common Core, seem to increase by leaps and bounds.  Homelessness has greatly been on the rise in the City.  The BBC recently reported that in all likelihood there are tens of thousands of exploited children in the United States.  Many are under-aged.  Some are held by drug-traffickers.  Victims are often caught in a web in which they blame themselves for their condition.   That's not right.  Don't blame poverty, desperation or depravity.  That would be more "soft-bigotry"!  Blame teachers.

In this day and age of ed. "reform," it is all the rage to turn blinders towards poverty, opting instead to focus on the depavity of teachers.  In 2013, American teachers, perhaps 40,000, were exposed for frequenting a website to find sugar daddies, primarily in Philadelphia, Miami-Dade, Los Angeles and NY.  Sources pointed to cuts in teacher pay (particularly in Philadelphia) and strikes against unions as well as weakening job security.  More "soft bigotry."  Women are driven to these extremes solely because they are teachers!

Today, there are new options.   One can become a much talked-about painted lady of Times Square...  And for those who see no market for painted gentlemen or transgenders, or for those who are more timid, superheroes and cartoon figures also do well.  Why not be Mister/Mrs. Softee and take your low expectations with you?

So why do people try to make a buck in Times Square?  There must be a variety of reasons.  According to one Nicaraguan-Saudi gentleman who earns his living posing as Spiderman, "I don't get what they want people to do, to work, or to steal and deal drugs?"  He cannot find minimum-wage work ("I go and there are twenty people in line in front of me also waiting to get a job").  With his costume, he averages nine dollars an hour, doing "whatever a spider can"!  Just imagine the dreams he might have woven (or not) had he been Common Cored.  "Oh, what a tangled web..."

Many of the street performers in Times Square are immigrants, speaking little to no English, fearing deportation, unable to find other labor.  But don't bother blaming the economy.  And, certainly don't look to Washington!  That would be more of that "soft-bigotry" stuff.  Don't bother blaming anything or anyone but teachers.  And, if a few teachers turn up in Times Square this September, it only goes to prove that it's a short step from painting sheep to painting scapegoats!

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