Home / US Education / Elmo isn’t Gramsci for kids and the mythical soft bigotry of low expectations

Elmo isn’t Gramsci for kids and the mythical soft bigotry of low expectations

This quick essay was once at the start revealed on The Daily Censored on August 11, 2011. It would appear that each one of the outdated works on that website are long gone. That’s unlucky as a result of I revealed so much of paintings there. I had a teaser right here linking to it, a convention I ended doing exactly as a result of I have realized from harsh enjoy that web sites die and all the content material is misplaced (like my At The Chalkface works). I used to be in a position to trace down a reprint on Susan Ohanian’s website, however her website is having problems as smartly. Ultimately, I used to be in a position to retrieve a replica of the reprint from the Wayback Machine.

I need to reproduce this final sentence from Ohanian’s advent, since she had such perception into why the essay was once necessary:

“The hardline right wing may well love the vacuous phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations,” however let’s needless to say schooling deform democrats find it irresistible simply as a lot. It is most commonly used to position modern activists on the defensive.” — Susan Ohanian

Elmo isn’t Gramsci for kids and the mythical soft bigotry of low expectations

“We address the soft bigotry of low expectations so that we may ignore the hard racism of inequity.” — John Kuhn

Although this pictures isn’t new and commentators have already mentioned it, it merits reexamination because it illuminates one of the core false tenets of the company schooling reform canon.

Amidst the abnormal statement that Sesame Street is indoctrinating youngsters in some kind of insidious left wing plot, reactionary Ben Shapiro says that:

“I talked to one of the guys who’s at Children’s Television Workshop originally and he said the whole purpose of Sesame Street was cater to black and hispanic youths who, quote unquote, did not have reading literature in the house, there kind of this soft bigotry of low expectations that’s automatically associated with Sesame Street.”

Ahhh — the chimerical “soft bigotry of low expectations.” As hostile to the arduous bigotry of the pervasive institutional racism underpinning our financial gadget, which facilitates the department of staff and submerses a majority in abject poverty with a purpose to make a small minority obscenely wealthy. The exact same minority, through the approach, that helps privatizing public schooling by means of charters and vouchers.

The doubtful word is loved through the hardline appropriate. The Birchers at the Heartland Institute [1] use the word with reckless abandon. Cato, Manhattan, Hoover, and all the different reactionary appropriate wing suppose tanks repeat the word “soft bigotry of low expectations” as though it is the mantra vital to completely carry again the gilded age all of them pine for.

Of route the nonsensical word isn’t restricted to fringe right-wing kooks that still suppose John Galt and Howard Rourke are ancient figures. Many supposed-liberals, or at the very least Democratic Leadership Council birthday celebration operatives, use the word as incessantly, if no longer extra incessantly than their teabagging opposite numbers.

The vile billionaire hedge fund shyster Whitney Tilson makes use of the word ceaselessly. Remember too that the ever obtuse Tilson helped shape two of the maximum virulent company reform and privatization pushing organizations in lifestyles: Teach for America (TFA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). The latter, DFER, makes use of the word in its privatization propaganda. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has used the word. TFA’s Wendy Kopp has had a profitable occupation peddling the word. The snarling queen of Erasuregate, Michelle Rhee, cherishes such words. Los Angeles’ poverty pimping opportunist Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proudly plasters the word on twitter.

The unprincipled development “soft bigotry of low expectations” is most often credited to the Council on Foreign Relations’s arch-reactionary Michael Gerson, who was once the speechwriter for fraudulent Rod Paige’s Texas Education Miracle co-fraud, George W. Bush.

Like all the philosophically threadbare propaganda from the appropriate, the expression is vapid and vacuous, with none actual which means in any way, striking it appropriate in conjunction with “no excuses,” and “working hard and being nice.” Professor Noam Chomsky perfect addresses those sorts of words:

“It doesn’t mean anything… That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy?” [2]

The coverage in query is to forget about poverty and call for a false duty from all of poverty’s sufferers. While there are numerous works discussing this, a contemporary pair of essays through my Schools Matter colleague Professor P. L. Thomas, EdD, actually get to the center of this factor: Poverty and Testing in Education: “The Present Scientifico-legal Complex” phase 1 and phase 2.

Humane Expectations Devoid of any Bigotry

In my a few years I have by no means come throughout an educator that had the rest however “realistic expectations tempered with compassion and empathy” for their scholars, regardless of the place they taught. Moreover, for appropriate wing reactionaries to accuse arduous running girls and males that experience devoted their lives to teaching interior town scholars of bigotry of any kind smacks of hypocrisy of the best order. It’s laughable on its face.

Of route compassion and empathy are overseas phrases to the rogues gallery speak about above, none of whom have ever taught of their lives. Well, with the exceptions of Wendy Kopp and Michelle Malkin — I imply, Michele Bachmann, er, — I imply Michelle Rhee (sorry it is so simple to confuse the ones 3). Rhee is so devoid of empathy and compassion that one of the maximum enduring tales from her quick stint as a TFA missionary is when she taped her scholars mouths close with protecting tape and then walked them to the lunchroom, bleeding lips and all. Kopp is apparently much less of a sociopath than Rhee, however it is transparent her interest for status and fortune outweigh any compassion she may have as soon as had.

Access To Books

The more thing reactionary Shapiro will get fully fallacious earlier than using the hackneyed “soft bigotry of low expectations” nonsense, was once to push aside the Children’s Television Workshop’s catering to youngsters that “did not have reading literature in the house.” Access to books in the house is a significant indicator of instructional fulfillment and impoverished households have very restricted get admission to to books. This is a reality, and no longer one thing to be pushed aside through a sniveling appropriate winger threatening to “take them [Elmo and Big Bird] out back and cap them.”

Another one of my Schools Matter colleagues, the outstanding Professor Stephen Krashen, PhD, has researched and written widely on the matter of get admission to to books. Here are a small sampling of his to be had quick articles linking to longer works on the matter.

Given the staunch anti-intellectualism, lack of wisdom about all factor pedagogical, and instructional aversion that whiny appropriate wingers like Shapiro are identified for, it is no surprise that he did not get the entire significance of offering further instructional assets for youngsters that “did not have reading literature in the house” like the prescient other folks at Children’s Television Workshop all the time have.

“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity.” [3]

Now that we are discussing these items, let’s speak about the stark racism and classism stemming from the company schooling reform motion, which is orchestrated through the similar plutocrats that aired Shapiro’s tv program. After all, the ones are the kind of issues that vacuous words like “soft bigotry of low expectations” are meant to distract us from.


[1] Heartland Institute is none rather than Parent Revolution’s sister group. Word is that along with co-hosting faculty privatization boards that Ben Austin and Ben Boychuck formulate coverage in combination. [2] Chomsky, Noam. Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, Second Edition. New York: Seven Stories Press., 1991. pp. 25-26. [3] Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2009. p. 45.


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