NY education leaders are exploiting the pandemic to drop all school standards

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Schoolchildren have gotten the short end of every stick all pandemic long, from unpredictable closures and virtual learning to stressed-out teachers and a wholesale dropping of standards and accountability. But the New York state teachers’ union is eager to hide the bad news by killing standardized exams.

The tests would help show how each child has fallen behind, and so guide future education. But the New York State United Teachers union, joined by the state Board of Regents, has written to ask (tell, more like it) state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa to suspend standardized testing for grades 3-8 and high school.

The Regents-NYSUT letter notes that teachers are “finding it difficult to properly teach all the standards” and that “many students have struggled to keep up” thanks to the mess of remote and hybrid learning, plus emotional turmoil from the summer’s violence. They’re surely right that many students are ill-prepared for progress assessments — but surely it’s better to know what they haven’t learned?

The union pretends this about the kids’ “well-being,” but NYSUT is plainly just guarding its own interests — since the grim results risk getting parents on board with education reforms that might threaten union privileges.

Assessing problems is the first step toward fixing them. Waiting another year (or more!) won’t help students catch up, but only have them move up another grade without gaping holes in their education being revealed.

Note, too, that NYSUT already took partial credit for the cancellation of the 2020 end-of-year and January 2021 Regents exams, as well as for the state’s massive softening of graduation requirements.

Sadly, the Regents and the whole State Education Department basically do whatever the unions want — since (thanks to an oddity in the state Constitution) the educrats answer not to Gov. Cuomo but to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Indeed, SED and the Regents have gone along with every push to soften standards and blur accountability, especially since COVID hit.

It’s shameful to see so many adults exploiting the pandemic to make their own lives easier at the expense of the children they’re supposed to serve.

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