Learn English – What does “soft bigotry of low expectations” mean


There was the following question from a reader and the answer by Charles Blow under the headline, Your Questions, Answered in the Opinion Page of May 7 New York Times.

I invited you to ask me anything this week, and you did. Here are my
answers to some of your most interesting questions

Q. What do you think of the phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations?”
What do you think of the way it figures in today’s education policies
and debates?—John A., New York, N.Y.

A. I think it’s a fascinating concept and often a true expression of
the way some children are treated.

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “soft bigotry of low expectations” was conceptualized by the former President G.W. Bush, and involves much debate.
What does the phrase exactly mean? Is this phrase still up-to-date and meaningful as being questioned now by a NYT reader?

Best Answer

The expression refers to a prejudiced attitude of intolerance with respect to races and religions, especially those which are not the main accepted ones. This attitude here is described as soft and with low expectations in the sense that it is not aggressive but has little chances of change in a positive way.

soft bigotry Schools need to stop promoting the soft bigotry of low expectations, the Education Secretary has said, claiming teachers refuse to believe that children from poor homes can achieve high standards.

As Ngram shows the expression has been popolar in recent years especially in Am E, but as shown in the article by the a Telegraph is used in Britain too.