Peter Greene, always a font of common sense, explains
how we replaced “the soft bigotry of low expectations

with the “hard tyranny of ridiculous expectations.” He writes: “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.” The bottom line: “The “promise of the common core” turns out
to be nothing more than threatening students “You’re going to pass
this high stakes test or we’re going to label you a failure, punish
your teachers, and keep you from graduating.” That’s not the soft
bigotry of low expectations, but the rather harsh bigotry of “Those
damn lazy kids just aren’t motivated enough. Threaten them.” They
don’t need help, support, resources, economic relief, or anything
else– just threats. “The cost of this bad threat is more than the
students should have to bear and certainly of no benefit to us as a
society. And the test results recall one more lesson from Basic
Teacher 101. If you have given a test to your class and a huge
percentage of the students have failed it, it’s a bad test.” What
Greene doesn’t understand is that there is a reason for these
wildly unrealistic expectations: They are supposed to make public
schools look bad so they can be closed and handed over to the
private sector.