In its latest move to destroy all Empire State education standards, the Board of Regents is using the pandemic as an excuse to eviscerate a gold-standard learning assessment: the Regents exams for high school graduation.
The Biden administration turned down the State Education Department’s request to waive all the Regents and other assessment exams for a second year in a row, so the ones required by the feds (for Algebra I, English, living environment and earth science) will go ahead this June. But SED, with the board’s approval, is scrapping all other Regents in the name of “equity.”
As a result, top students across the state will have no idea where they stand academically after all these months of remote learning.
But ensuring that no one knows how bad it’s been may well be the point. Teachers’ unions don’t want anyone held accountable for illiterate and innumerate students. And those unions have huge sway with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who (thanks to a fluke of the state Constitution) effectively controls the Regents and SED and dutifully fills the board with “educators” who believe that assessment tests punish kids.
The Regents (and SED under their direction) have warred against standards and accountability ever since Chancellor Merryl Tisch was pushed out in March 2016, just a year after Heastie took the speakership.
For decades, Regents exams have been invaluable for parents, teachers and colleges, allowing them all to identify high-achieving students. After the compromised learning of the pandemic year, they’d be even more invaluable tools for assessing student progress and grasp of the material taught — or lack thereof.
As for “equity”: Wouldn’t it be far more fair to at least offer the exams to kids who wanted to take them, to prove that they have learned? Canceling the Regents is a gift to the privileged, who can already benefit from rigorous private education and pricey college-prep courses.
From the start of the lockdowns, the state’s education “leaders” have done next to nothing to get kids back in classrooms or to curb learning loss. Now they’re doing their best to prevent anyone from learning how far the last 18 months have set students back.
We’ve railed against the many “worthless diplomas” issued in the city by the de Blasio Department of Education, but the Heastie-run Board of Regents is fast making every diploma in New York state a meaningless piece of paper. This is the “equity” of universal ignorance.