It’s soft bigotry to lower standards for minority kids

Aug 23, 2020

The soft bigotry of low expectations, and the idea that being kind and working hard is racist

The so-called “anti-racist” movement is inspiring a wave of ignorance and soft bigotry in American schools. I fear that Britain will be next.

Uncommon Schools – the world-renowned charter schools whose managing director, Doug Lemov, released the much celebrated Teach Like a Champion book – announced a sudden and complete change of direction this week in order to become “an increasingly anti-racist organisation” that promotes “social justice”.

What does this look like in practice? They will no longer enforce a policy encouraging pupils to listen in class; ties will no longer be a uniform requirement; pupils will be able to wear trainers instead of shoes; detentions will no longer be given out for “minor infractions”; all staff will be trained in unconscious bias; and teachers will be asked to “manage their own emotions in conflict situations”.

No doubt these changes are well-intentioned, but they also reinforce the prejudice of low expectations. The idea that black and minority ethnic students can’t be expected to listen to the teacher or to dress smartly is insulting enough, but to suggest that black people cannot be expected to behave and therefore shouldn’t be given detentions is outrageous.

This lunacy is already spreading across the Atlantic. Just this week, a lecturer in education from Brunel University London published a series of tweets berating Teach Like a Champion, claiming that for teachers to correct their pupils’ grammar is punitive, discriminatory and oppressive.

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