In a move to boost teacher union support for his campaign, former Vice-President Joe Biden is promising to get rid of standardized tests in public schools.
Biden’s commitment to eliminate the tests came after an attendee at MSNBC’s Public Education Forum 2020 told him that the tests were “rooted in a history of racism and eugenics,” and then asked the current Democrat frontrunner if he would promise to toss them out. The Obama-era VP agreed to do so.
However, like many of his recent campaign statements, the explanation was essentially non-sensical. Biden told his audience that while some teachers are great and others are lousy, all teachers know how to communicate essential knowledge to a child — and so should in fact be allowed to create their own curriculums without having to worry about mandatory tests. The comment is an odd one, given the obvious fact that a lousy teacher would, most likely, not create the best curriculum.
Without standardized tests, there would be no way of knowing if a teacher is, in fact, providing the children in his or her care with a decent education. At the same time, perhaps imparting essential skills isn’t really what the question is about. After all, the woman asking the question made it a point to emphasize “culturally responsive curricula” as though children of different races needed totally different educational approaches.
Sadly, Biden isn’t the only one pandering to teacher unions and public-school advocates on this issue. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another top candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, proposed a lengthy educational plan that would strip charter schools of public funding and force them to seek public school approval before opening branches in any district in the nation. Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to ban for-profit charter schools altogether. Both senators are pushing plans that would “further integrate” school based on the idea that simply mixing children of various ethnic groups fixes everything.
Given the huge focus on “cultural responsiveness”, the inherent “racism and eugenics” found in standardized tests, and the racial mix-up of public-school classrooms, it’s not easy to see why public schools in the United States are falling behind the rest of the world. Recent statistics show that U.S. student performance in reading has put the nation in thirteenth place, behind China, Korea, Finland, Poland, and Estonia. Math is even worse; the United States’ student performance in this field lags behind Russia, Hungary, Italy, the Slovak Republic, Spain and a host of other nations.
Sadly, many teacher unions aren’t putting a priority on fixing these problems. Instead, they want to allow teachers more “freedom” to teach what they want, when they want. While some teachers will undoubtedly use this freedom to help students, these same teachers are often able to provide a top-quality education while still preparing their students for standardized tests. The freedom to offer a “culturally responsive” education is nothing more than a cover to provide children with sub-par learning opportunities.
In the end, it is the children who will suffer the most as former VP Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats upend basic educational requirements in order to please a small yet powerful group of people.