Friday, May 25, 2007

Low Expectations Anonymous

Via eduwonk.com, watch Education Guru Margaret Spellings on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Here's an excerpt:
Stewart: "Education, why is it such a bedevilling problem; not just for this administration....you could change one thing, you could smite the teachers' union if you wish" [Ms. Spellings makes funny faces as if she agrees before saying "no"] "In a perfect world what is the most vexing part of this whole situation?"

Spellings: "Low expectations. What the President calls the 'soft bigotry' of low expectations."

Stewart then takes the opportunity to make fun of the President--really?

Spellings: "No, seriously, we have to expect more from our kids, and we have lowered the bar, and lowered the bar...kids will rise to the occasion. Kids are bored in high school. They're not being prepared..."

Stewart: "Who is that expects less? Is it the parents that expect less, or is it the teachers expect less...who's got the low expectations?"

Spellings: "I think a lot of time the system does..."

After hearing Ms. Spellings imply that I expect less from my students (I am part of the system), I did some soul searching. I ended up at Low Expectations Anonymous. Here's the transcript:

Mr. McNamar: "Hello, everyone, I'm Mr. McNamar and I don't expect much from my students."
Group: "Hello, Mr. McNamar."
Mr. McNamar: "It started late last month. I had a student who had been an A student most of her school career. I'd noticed that her grades were slipping and her attendance was dropping. I talked to her, telling her my concerns. I contacted her parents. She continued to not turn work in and miss class. I continued to call home and encourage her. Then I noticed that my expectations were too high. Apparently she is not in the upper middle class. So, I lowered my expectations for her. It no longer bothers me that she doesn't come to class or turn in homework."
Group Leader: "How does this make you feel?"
Mr. McNamar: "Well, at first, I felt released from all of the stress I have had for the past months wondering about whether this student would graduate on time, or even if she was safe and okay. But then, I heard a voice from the Education Goddess, Ms. Spellings. She said that the most vexing situation in public education is that teachers, well, she said, 'system', doesn't care to have high expectations. I realized I was one of those poor souls."
Group Leader: "You've taken the first step towards understanding, Mr. McNamar. We are here to help you understand that the students' boredom is not their fault; it's yours. Thank you for sharing."
"Mr. McNamar: "I feel so much better."

3 Comments:

At 6:20 PM , Anonymous Laura said...

Maybe that's all "the system" needs: LE Anon.

On the other hand, I've had good luck with high expectations this semester. Only 1 or 2 in 12 students are failing my Spanish classes beyond all hope. This probably feels like success, though, because there ARE only 12 or 13 in each class. It's more frustrating having 3 in 23 in the English class over whom I've had to begin a few LE Anon speeches.

 
At 8:08 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Dang, girl; my senior failure list, because of my high expectations, has 10 failures and 15 D's with two weeks of classes remaining. I expect my students to do work; apparently, they don't expect to do it.

 
At 1:35 PM , Blogger Polski3 said...

Pray tell, what flavor Kool-Aid do they serve at LE-Anon. meetings ?

 

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