Wednesday, September 18, 2019

NY Post Editorial Board Hates Regents for All the Wrong Reasons

I'm always amazed when I read the simplistic nonsense in the NY Post education editorials. Evidently, they believe passing the Regents exams actually symbolizes mastery of something or other. I guess these writers weren't focused when the tests were Common Cored to ensure maximum indifference to anything of inherent value. More likely they were off to the side cheerleading when that happened. Admittedly, I don't always follow the editorials.

I know counselors who tell me the very highest-achieving students cannot write a coherent college essay. I can't say I'm surprised. Our concept of teaching English involves prepping for a test that measures neither reading nor writing, but rather the ability to copy language from both sides of an argument, say which side you prefer, and then answer a bunch of multiple choice questions. Formulating your own argument? That's a thing of the past.

Common Core, of course, is founded by the great David "No one gives a crap what you think or feel" Coleman, who now runs the College Board. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose. Since your feelings and opinions are presumed to have no value, it's hard to imagine how you're going to get the whole writing thing going.

It's ironic that an editorial board would champion such a philosophy. After all, it's their job to tell us what they think and feel. Why would they be so enamored of a system that so actively discourages what they actually do? If the Post editorial board thinks the system is so great, why don't they stop giving their opinions and start parsing whether or not shark netting is a good idea, and doing so by taking a list of prescribed articles and adding no judgment save which arguments they like better?

In fact, teachers have complained to me that they've failed certification exams for giving their opinions. It appears the whole common coriness thing has become a qualification for our position. Evidently our opinions are not welcome either. That's an odd qualification for a job that depends so heavily on frequent, almost perpetual instant judgments. But what do I know? I'm not an editorial writer or a test designer. (I mean sure, I design tests, but my tests are designed to measure what my students actually study, not David Coleman's public grappling with his lifelong feelings of personal inadequacy.)

Actually there is a reading test we offer. It's actually not called that. Rather, it's called the new global exam. I was pretty happy to know that I needed virtually no knowledge of global history to pass it. Because I've spent my life reading, I was able to figure out almost all the answers. On the other hand, you might want to, you know, have people study and learn about history. I think I would if I were a history teacher. If I wanted them to pass the test, though, I'd probably focus on reading and discussions. The subject would be of no importance whatsoever.

I'd discourage that if I were teaching to the English Regents. This doesn't involve reading, reflection or consideration, but rather close reading, or nitpicking for details that may or may not be of ultimate importance. The Post sees things differently, of course.

The real agenda here is simply to further erode any standard that might expose public schools as failing to educate. Ever since forcing the exit of Chancellor Merryl Tisch in 2015, the Regents have watered-down standards on teacher training, teacher accountability and state tests for grades 3-8 as well as the Regents exams.

It was actually Merryl Tisch who ushered in all this Common Core nonsense. All the current Regents have done about that, so far, is nothing. They've moved steadily in Tisch's direction. In fact, they've made the rather stunning determination that English Language Learners need less English instruction. So after watering down ELA to virtually nothing, they've determined that the students most in need of English need less than nothing.

For my money, getting rid of the Regents exams with which I'm familiar has no meaning whatsoever. You may argue that the math or science exams have some value, but I'd be quite surprised. The Post thinks the Regents want to make diplomas meaningless. If that is predicated on the assumption that they are now meaningful based on Regents exams, they've got their work cut out for them.
blog comments powered by Disqus