If You Are an Underserved Parent, Beware the “Bait and Wait” Fallacy

Many of us know the “bait and switch” scam, where you are promised something nice and shiny and get something janky.  Well, families need to look out for the “bait and wait” scam even more.  

You can’t bait and switch us on schools, because we see the schools. We may not know all the issues, but there ain’t no switching possible. 

“Bait and wait” is more tricky.  It acknowledges that your school may not be doing great, but it promises you that if you just wait, things will get better.  It presents a fictionalized future of candy canes and lemon drops for everyone—including you—just around the corner.

If you just wait.

For example: “We don’t need families choosing schools or leaving their neighborhoods, we need to create a great school in every neighborhood.”  Yes, that fictionalized future would be great. However, for us there is no historical record of it. So, to think it will now appear, in the brief academic lifespan of our child is ummm…nonsensical. Definitely not a gamble worth taking.

Or how about: “We just need to fully fund our schools and fix the ones we have rather than create new ones.” Again, yes, that would be nice. In rare instances, schools have been “fixed” and gone on to show sustained progress. But most of the time, not really. And Oakland’s most impacted schools have never gotten—and probably will never get—their “fair share.”  We don’t invest in “those kids.”

Again, this would be great if it happened. It would be great if Santa Claus delivered every child every present they wanted. But if you are waiting on a great neighborhood school—something that has never existed in your neighborhood—or waiting for them to fix or fully resource the schools, good luck. And hey, maybe Santa will deliver that. But if you have a kid—you ain’t waiting on Santa in any situation.

The “bait and wait” is a seductive minx though. S/he tempts you to keep swimming in a stagnant pond, while lighting up your imagination with stories of shimmering lakes of pristine waters.  S/he also plays on your aspirations and notions of fairness.  Problem is they are only notions of fairness, and notions won’t help your child.

One more thing, 90% of the time that someone tries to sell you the “bait and wait,” either they don’t have any kids, or their kid is in one of those “private” public “great neighborhood schools” in the Hills gated off by zip codes from the Flatlanders. Or they got them into actually “private” private school.

Sure as shit they don’t have them in a school where 5% of children read proficiently, or less than a third of their ethnic group graduates able to even apply to the state college system.

But they want you to wait. 

Don’t fall for it.

What do you think?

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