Our dogma is one such factor: Do teachers sometimes short-change low-income kids by holding "low expectations?"
Presumably, yes. Teachers sometimes short-change high-achieving kids the same way, even in leafy suburbs. We have a lot of teachers. They do all sorts of things.
That said, teachers can also undermine low-income kids through irrational expectations and unwise academic demands. We'll grant you this—we liberals rarely mention this fact. Dating to time immemorial, we have much preferred the happy-talk scenario, in which low-income kids are secret geniuses stymied by hateful teachers.
When we tell the story that way, it makes our sick souls feel good.
How often do teachers short-change kids by holding low expectations? It would be interesting to see some sort of serious examination of that question.
That said, discussions of low-income students are much more often exercises in various types of dogma. Different dogma obtains within the two tribes, but each tribe is a purveyor.
At the start of the month, The Atlantic published an unfortunate report about the latest exciting new study. In a slapdash post about The Atlantic's report, Kevin Drum put the dogma into his headline, thus making it simpler to find:
"White Teachers Think Pretty Poorly of Their Black Students"
That's an ugly, disgraceful headline. But it nicely captures the dogmatics of an ugly, stupid age.
We hate to kill the joy of dogma, but there's nothing much in that new study to justify such a headline. According to The Atlantic's report about the latest new study, teachers were asked to make some predictions. They were asked to predict whether their tenth-grade students would go on to graduate.
As best we can tell from The Atlantic's report and from the study's (barely coherent) press release, white teachers' predictions were more pessimistic than black teachers' predictions. That said, it also sounds like predictions by black male teacher were least optimistic of all.
These predictions were made many years ago. No one bothered to check to see whose predictions were more accurate, nor is there any evidence that anyone actually cares.
There's also no evidence indicating that any particular group of teachers was misperforming in some particular way. But this is an age in which we liberals love to scatter our R-bombs around, displaying our glory and power.
Given our tribe's complete disinterest in the actual lives of black kids, headlines like the one in question turn bloggers into heroes. Who cares if a headline like that is sick, ugly, vile, unfounded?
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, black and Hispanic kids are doing much better in school. You have virtually never heard your favorite liberals mention this important fact. Simply put, your favorite liberals 100 percent don't care.
Instead, you hear corporate and mainstream types misrepresent the state of the data while your favorite fiery liberals snore and roll their eyes—and mug and clown, of course. And then, the unqualified people who get assigned to cover such topics offer us dogma like this:
DERUY (4/1/16): It bears repeating that while it is true that high-school graduation rates are lower for black students, the discrepancy has to do with unequal access to opportunity and resources, not innate ability. Black students are more likely to attend high-poverty schools with fewer resources, and to have less access than their white peers to advanced-placement courses. Student-to-counselor ratios are also much higher than recommended, a problem that is particularly troubling for poor students, who are disproportionately likely to come from families that lack experience navigating the college-admissions system.That was paragraph 4 of Emily DeRuy's report about the latest new study. It spills with achingly pure liberal belief. It also advertises this fact:
The Atlantic flat-out doesn't care.
Please understand—it isn't the reporter's fault that she is youngish and lacks a background in low-income education. She didn't assign herself to cover this topic. Her uncaring editors assigned her.
Assigned a task for which she's unprepared, DeRuy presented a wonderfully bowdlerized account of the reasons why "high school graduation rates are lower for black students."
On the brighter side, her account was straight outta tribal dogma. Accounts like hers are guaranteed to make white liberals feel good. In the meantime, low-income black kids can go hang. Truthfully, nobody cares.
Even in the face of those improved NAEP scores, there are many factors which help explain why "high school graduation rates are lower for black students." In a nation which actually cared about black kids, you'd see those reasons being explored on a regular basis.
You don't live in a nation that's anything like that. You live inside an embarrassing nation with a profoundly failing political culture. By and large, your liberal heroes are corporate clowns. They're paid huge bucks to entertain us and to help us feel morally pure.
If it's the truth you want, we'll offer you this:
White liberals (and magazines like The Atlantic) don't care a whole lot about black kids. Beyond that, there is no sign that we have any plans to start.