Timothy Collins pens this essay for The Daily Yonder about the specter of low expectations found in rural high schools. While it is mostly a persuasion piece, with a flare for the dramatic, part of its effectiveness might be found in that those of us who know rural schools might feel some of the pressure he describes.
Maybe don’t try the four-year college? Maybe don’t try the hard classes? Maybe don’t try the technical training. After all, college is expensive and, anyway, there are no jobs.
Low expectations, seemingly benign or not, erode the community’s ability to adapt and sustain itself. Low expectations for children – along with low school funding, poverty, and diminished expectations for the community itself – are nightmarish. Even if we can’t overcome the financial obstacles for rural schools, we need to encourage children to do their best with high expectations that are tailored to their needs, potentials, and desires to show what they can do for themselves and their communities.
Give up on the kids and you tack an expiration date on your community. A community with low expectations for itself is a sad, desperate place that will be exploited until it changes from within.