We've heard plenty about the "soft bigotry of low expectations." And Michael Gerson wasn't entirely wrong-- we have a history of all too often writing off students because of poverty or race or chaotic home life or not-so-brightness. Too often we really have held our most challenged students to no expectation at all.
But for the soft bigotry of low expectations, we have substituted the hard tyranny of ridiculous expectations. We have, for instance, substituted the expectation that every third grader will read at grade level no matter what. In some states (I'm looking at you, NY) we raised the standard for proficiency arbitrarily. And we have just generally pushed the idea that all students should be at grade level (as determined by anything from data averages to a politician's whim) all the time.
That seems like a swell expectation. It's not. It's stupid. Let's just apply that reasoning some more. Let's compute the average height for an eight-year-old and declare that all third graders must be that height. Let's require all children to be walking by their tenth month and potty trained by month thirteen. Let's require all seventeen-year-old males to be able to grow facial hair and all fifteen-year-old females to fill a B cup. And let's tell all young men and women that they must be engaged by age twenty-two.
Let's take every single human developmental milestone and set a point by which every human being must have achieved it. Because that is totally how human beings develop and learn and grow-- on exactly the same path, at exactly the same speed, at exactly the same time.
Ecraser la technocratie.