Parents, beware: State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa and her allies on the Board of Regents are getting set to kill the state Regents exams, the central guarantee that a New York high-school diploma signified real value for well over a century. If parents and politicians who care about standards and excellence don’t speak up now, it’ll be a done deal before you know it.
The writing was on the wall at a recent Board of Regents meetings, as the state’s top educrats discussed the worth of the exams for high-school graduation. “Maybe the Regents exams are not the be-all and end-all,” said Regent Roger Tilles, bizarrely pondering whether students who can’t pass a Regents test yet can pass all their courses should be denied high-school diplomas. (In fact, they can get a less-prestigious “local diploma.”)
The debate comes on the heels of a 166-page report assessing graduation requirements here and across the nation, and ahead of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures that will soon recommend changes to the state’s graduation requirements.
Ever since he took office as Assembly speaker, Carl Heastie has been packing the Board of Regents with anti-standards zealots, the latest being Manhattan’s Shino Tanikawa, goosing the board’s race-to-the-bottom policies.
Yes, lower standards make it easier to pretend schools are succeeding, but at the price of denying kids who excel the proof of their success.
Rosa regularly argues that the exams aren’t working for every student and pushed for alternative paths to graduation, including career and technical education. A separate “technical Regents diploma” might well make sense, but it’s not reason to rob the many kids that the tests do serve.
Even worse is the claim that the tests “harm” minority and disadvantaged students because their passing rates are lower. In fact, those kids need the benefits of a quality education the most; the anti-standards agenda is all about hiding the reality that New York public schools fail the majority of students so badly.
The Regents exams are the state’s only reliable barometer of student learning, achievement and college-readiness at the high-school level. Eliminating them (or watering them down, as Heastie’s Regents keep doing) is all about killing the messenger.
And let’s not pretend this is even any service to diversity, equity or inclusion: At best, it’s about hiding the fact that the state’s schools don’t deliver what less-privileged kids need.
Fact is, killing the Regents exams would be a death blow to public education across New York, sending even more families into flight from a system that’s utterly devoted to the adults’ interests at the expense of all children.