Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Big Lie on Testing from Biden

The Biden administration is insisting on standardized testing for traumatized students this year. This is a huge disappointment. I remember the awful education policies of the Obama administration, and I remember Diane Ravitch writing that Obama gave Bush a third term on education. Don't get me wrong--I certainly don't miss Big Orange at all.

I was wary of Biden because of Obama's awful policies. I remember Arne Duncan making us all Race to the Top. I remember the insistence on evaluation teachers based at least somewhat on test scores. Despite the fact that it mitigates the judgment of insane supervisors, it was and is junk science.  It's not best policy to judge working teachers by junk science.

But Joe Biden came to Pittsburgh to speak to educators, and painted us a very different portrait of himself. Biden was low on my list of Democratic candidates. He wasn't the worst of the bunch. I would not have voted for anti-public education candidates Corey Booker or Mike Bloomberg under any circumstance. Biden got my vote, but I was very concerned he'd enable the sort of reforminess that Obama did.

The forum in Pittsburgh was really interesting, but when I got there I found no way to ask a question. I tried really hard and pushed everywhere I could think of. Here's the question I wanted to ask:

I recall Arne Duncan, who famously said Hurricane Katrina was the best thing to happen to education in New Orleans. This resulted, of course, in the charterization of the entire city, the loss of many union jobs, and the displacement of a large number of teachers. Fifteen years after Katrina, most New Orleans charters are graded D or F. Duncan also pushed test-centric initiatives, such as Race to the Top and Common Core; even so, NAEP scores remain flat. What was your position on Duncan's education initiatives? Has it changed? Why or why not?

I was given a message from the people at MSNBC that there was already one question about testing, and evidently one was the limit. In fact, I'm watching MSNBC right now, and the subject of testing is still, evidently, not worthy of mention. But the fact is, Biden told us he opposed standardized testing, and he's repeated it elsewhere.

Evidently, those who he's appointed disagree, and he's good with that. The notion of testing this year is absurd and counter-productive. I have no idea how you give a Regents exam online without having students look up the answers on Google. I have no idea how these tests will be graded. Are we going to view them online and grade them that way? Will second readers be on computers somewhere else?

It doesn't matter to the feds. They don't have to worry about it. We do, and that's fine with Joe Biden, because he evidently doesn't think we have enough nonsense to deal with. He doesn't think it's stressful enough for us and our students to deal with COVID. He doesn't think teaching remotely, or masked and socially distanced, is stressful enough for us.

Now, the geniuses in Albany will have to figure out how to do the impossible. This will be a big challenge for them as they aren't remotely qualified to keep up with the possible. This is Joe Biden's first huge disappointment for us. While it's better than Trump's lie every second, it's hardly desirable.

And it's absolutely not what teacher unions voted for.

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