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Not many people outside Connecticut are familiar with President-Elect Biden’s choice for Secretary of Education. He went to public schools. He has worked in public schools his entire career. His children go to public schools in Meriden, where he lives. He is not aligned with DFER or Chiefs for Change or any billionaire-funded “reform” group.
Politico points out two stances that Dr. Cardona has taken that will concern many parents and teachers. In his own state, he has pushed to resume annual testing this spring, despite the pandemic. Also, he has prioritized reopening schools, which will please some but anger others.
For those of us who question the value of annual testing, a policy not found in any high-performing nation, the resumption of high-stakes testing will be a mistake when so many children have had unequal opportunity to learn. DeVos offered blanket waivers in the spring of 2020 but said she would not do it again in 2021. Students and teachers should not be required to take tests that are sure to demonstrate what we already know: Students in affluent districts will get higher test scores than students who are in impoverished districts. The gaps between them will be larger do to unequal access to education during the pandemic. There! I just told you what we will learn if we give tens or hundreds of millions to the testing industry in March.
Decisions about reopening schools should be made by local officials, not the federal Department of Education. Such decisions should take into account the availability of resources and the local conditions. We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Conditions vary, and so should responses.