He asked: “Do you think it is wrong to have the same high expectations of our students who come from high poverty that we have for our students who come from wealthier backgrounds?”
Of course we all know what the politically correct answer is. But being an experienced educator I have a different answer. My answer is: “I have different expectations for each student without regard to socioeconomic background. I think it is just as wrong to expect a wealthy student to demonstrate high performance using narrow academic standards as it is to expect a poor student to perform poorly using the same narrow academic requirements.”
You see, the young teacher's question illustrates the trap that educators and students all over the country have been forced into by the no child left behind law. That same trap will only be greatly intensified by the common core standards. The main concept behind both no child left behind and common core is that every child should be able to perform on grade level in subjects that are generally known as the basic skills. (reading writing and arithmetic) Some researchers have called this the Lake Wobegon effect. That is the expectation that every child can and should perform at an average level or above. This is a statistical impossibility! Not even the highest performing states are coming anywhere near accomplishing this by the deadline of the year 2014 set in the NCLB law. That's why the NCLB waiver process was adopted by the Obama administration. But the common core curriculum, instead of providing for the diversity of our students, kicks it up a notch to say that we should prepare all students for college. The reformers ask: “What can be wrong with these high aspirations for our students considering the increasingly global competition for jobs?”
My answer is: “God (or nature) does not produce identical kids like a factory puts out widgets. Thank goodness! Some children are born with academic abilities and some have great artistic abilities and some can be trained to do skilled jobs. So why do our education deformers insist on educating them exactly the same using only a purely academic standard?”
What an unfair burden has been placed on the shoulders of that young teacher! Even though the state took over his school 4 years ago, not a bit of progress has been made in raising academic performance of those predominately high poverty students. The state is asking him to take the full responsibility for preparing all his students for college, without consideration of their abilities, gifts, handicaps or socioeconomic advantages or disadvantages. For 4 years, the Recovery District has failed to raise the SPS for that school and those students, yet he is supposed to change all that. No wonder most of these teachers only last a year or two trying to live up to that type of ridiculous standard. And when he quits in disgust for the lack of success, his indoctrination from the RSD reformers will likely convince him that it was all the fault of the other teachers that had his students before him who just did not have high expectations for their students.