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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