"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations, but, Rather,

. . . the case-hardened racism of unattainable demands:
School districts in North Carolina have a compelling opportunity to do the right thing for children by joining the protests in Virginia against No Child Left Behind legislation that requires all students, even those new to our country and culture, to take the same high-stakes tests.

Children who've moved to our country and are struggling with learning how to ask where the bathrooms are or how to find the music room are being asked after only one year in this country to take a reading test that requires not only literal understanding of text but high-level thinking skills and complex comprehension strategies.

To require that students new to our language take this test does not, as U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings asserts (Feb. 20 news story "Schools balk at testing"), counter the "soft bigotry of low expectations." Instead, it sets them and their schools up for failure.

High expectations are indeed necessary for all students. But expectations that are unreasonable and contrary to research regarding the length of time required to become proficient in another language assault the dignity and rights of these students.

Frances Fincher


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