Richard Carranza wants to use COVID-19 as excuse to kill standardized testing
“Never waste a good crisis,” city Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in April. Now, with parents distracted by the chaos of his reopening plan, Carranza and his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, are attempting to remake our schools just the way they’ve always wanted to.
Carranza has spent his tenure calling everyone who questions him “racist” and vowing to destroy Gotham’s best schools, while studiously ignoring the failing ones. His vision, shared by Hizzoner: Make the good schools worse, never the bad schools better.
And what better way to achieve that than by obscuring the current state of student achievement?
The 2020 state exams in math and English, normally held in April, were canceled when the pandemic hit. It made sense at the time, as we were all scrambling to help our kids find their footing amid the “new normal.”
But last week, during a Panel for Education Policy meeting, Carranza said he has already called for canceling state tests this academic year, with April a full eight months away.
“The state of New York has already submitted for a waiver [for the state tests],” he said, “because how can you possibly require children to perform at any level given the mixed instructional environment that we have, and, by the way, in some cases, a very substandard educational environment, because we know kids need a lot of different supports.”
Yeah, OK. Whose fault is the “mixed” instructional environment, the “very substandard educational environment” and lack of support for kids who need it — if not Carranza’s? Anyway: Isn’t better to know, so schools and parents can better know what works and who needs the most help?
It’s all very convenient for bad schools, which can now easily hide their failure with no standardized tests. Carranza’s failing bureaucracy can likewise shirk responsibility for the educational outcomes yielded by its half-baked reopening plan.
For another thing, the tests are used for admissions into some middle and high schools. Carranza and the mayor have both railed against “screened” admissions (though, of course, both sent their own children to selective institutions). Last spring, the Big Apple’s public-school kids didn’t get grades, either. It isn’t hard to envision Carranza pushing no grades for this year, too.
Thus, if you have a child entering fourth or seventh grade this year, and you hope to have her apply to a competitive middle or high school, the chancellor is purposefully setting her up for failure. Carranza experienced serious pushback when he tried to get rid of the screening process at top schools — so instead he’s just getting rid of the screens themselves.
But even if you don’t have a kid in those grades, Carranza’s social engineering (done on the pretext of coronavirus fears) can affect your child, too. If you have a kid going into kindergarten through second grade, your child is eligible to test for a gifted and talented program. Does anyone imagine that Carranza won’t come for the G&T test next?
“It’s not a local decision,” Carranza said about canceling the state tests. “It’s not even a state decision. It’s really a federal decision. Because the federal Department of Education requires us to submit these state exam scores as part of their accountability system. So, that being said, remember 69 days until the election. I’ll say it one more time: 69 days until the election.”
Carranza is clearly counting on a President Joe Biden, who, he hopes, will lighten the accountability burden on his schools even further. His department’s incompetence is why our schools are in such peril in the first place. It’s why Carranza is afraid of objective metrics exposing him.
Parents should be outraged. Carranza has run the department into the ground and now doesn’t want to be held accountable for it. September is coming. Parents need to fight, lest we all wake up from this coronavirus nightmare to find out our schools chancellor has used the crisis to destroy what little remains of excellence in the system.
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