Lowered Expectations!

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Remember back when MadTV first began its run and looked like it was going to be real competition for SNL? Back then, there was a recurring sketch called Lowered Expectations about lonely people who had given up on being picky in the love game. It’s the theme song to that sketch (see one featuring “Eddie Murphy” below) that played in my head when I heard about the latest move to further oppress the oppressed by a Republican “leader.”

Earlier this month, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal signed two state bills (House Bill 612 and Senate Bill 259, sponsored by a Democrat and Republican, respectively) that will allow eighth graders to put themselves on a “career” track, which will award them with a diploma that will qualify them to attend a vocational or technical school—but not a four-year university.

You read right: Instead of letting teachers and guidance counselors stick kids in categories based on their limited views of what they can do (don’t front—I always say thank God for my third grade teacher Mrs. Jackson who had me tested for the gifted program; I would never have been challenged without her plucking me off the “general education” track), kids who can’t even walk to school by themselves will be able to decide their own fates at the ripe old age of 13. Yes, their parents have to agree to the choice, but with so many people struggling just to keep their children in school, there’s a good chance folks will jump at the easy choice—and effectively lower the bar on their children’s future.

Nevermind that Jindal’s own state superintendent of education, Paul Pastorek, has opposed this plan, and that it will allow students to graduate without being proficient in English and math. Jindal’s reasoning? “This legislation gives us an opportunity to reach students [who] might otherwise slip through the cracks of our education system. Now—with these bills—we can cultivate these students’ interests and skills and help align them with a successful career path.”

Now I’m not against folks choosing careers in technical and vocational fields—hell, my daddy raised me on technical field money—but I am against limiting student’s options before they’re old enough to understand the consequences. As someone who has always pushed myself to do more, to be better, I’m upset that the state of Louisiana is telling students (49.9% of whom are “non-white”; seriously, the categories in the state’s annual report are “white” and “non-white,” smh) that it’s okay to sell themselves short.

Do you think it’s wrong to track students toward careers before they make it though puberty? Are you in support of this legislation? Got a favorite Lowered Expectations clip? Do share!

—Kenrya

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Last 5 posts by kenrya

  • Dionne

    I hate that, but I can’t say I’m surprised that Louisiana would pass such a bill. But don’t some countries like Korea and Brazil do almost the same thing?

  • This is a great article! I don’t think that children should commit to a career choice at age 13. I do however think that exploring career choices early is a good idea, this way at 18 they may have a better grasp as to what they don’t want to do at the very least.

  • Diane

    Um, we’re already graduating – from college – people who are not proficient in reading and writing.

    That said, I also think trying something different in states that consistently fail to improve their overall rankings (is anyone in SC reading this) could prove interesting.

    The UK has offered students this for decades – and Germany has a history of offering vocational over university as well. It doesn’t necessarily pigeon-hole an individual, and a teacher can still ‘pluck’ a student – if the teacher cares enough (oh but we’re not on that topic) but I’m all for coming out of high school with transferable skills. The insistence on a ‘degree’ has watered down the importance of that paper, imo. Not everyone is book smart and not everyone is technically adept to rewire homes, plumb out a home, etc. I think the US lost something by putting so much emphasis on ‘higher education’ as in university – rather than specializing in that which fits the person. Higher education should include proficiency in any trade, job, career – whether you achieve by degree or trade shouldn’t be the point.

    BOCES did provide a fine job back in the day. Are there any left? I know many lost funding.

  • Yahaira

    OK I know this is a serious post, but….Big chunky walnut hands!!!!!!!!!LOL that made my day.
    Now about the two state bills, I’m not surprised.

  • Leilani

    I know a lot about this because I work in the education field. In a Maryland county, students are allowed to put themselves in honors classes no matter the grade they earned the previous course. Today’s kids are allowed to make a lot of decisions about their education. However, this year they added that all students must take Algebra 2 and a computer science course. These students are either going to not graduate or get watered down courses. This county believe everyone should be prepared for college once graduating from high school. Not everyone should go to college and there are plenty of people that don’t go and have great careers.

    I could write for days. So I’ll stop and just say this could help students become more interested in school. I know I have students that drop out because they don’t feel they can pass Algebra 1 or Geometry, so this bill could benefit them.

  • Tahad

    Do you like to party all the time? if so, chances are that your kid is being hypnotized by the TV set, and being pushed through one of the poorest educational schools on your side of town to become a first class janitor at the McDonald’s in your area. thanks mom and some daddy’s for your support.