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When the Going is Tough, Testing is More Important Than Safety

September 4, 2020

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It is sad but predictable that Betsy DeVos is mandating the continuation of the standardized tests that she suspended last Spring when the pandemic caused schools across the country to close. Sad because she has not advocated for spending a single dollar to help schools reopen nor has she expressed any empathy for the parents who are placed in the position of having to choose whether to send their child to a school that may not be a safe environment because the government is unwilling to pay the costs to make them so. Nor has she acknowledged the peril of the teachers who are also concerned about the health risks posed by the pandemic.

What is even more sad is the reaction of many Democratic congressmen and senators who are unequivocally supporting Ms. DeVos. While the basis for their positions are high-minded based on their albeit misguided belief that tests are the best way to “measure” learning and track the effectiveness of schools and students, by decoupling the administration of tests from the provision of the funds needed to reopen schools they are yielding a potentially powerful bargaining chip in the second round of stimulus funding that is currently stuck in the Senate.

But there IS some potentially good news. If the tests continue in spite of the impact of the pandemic their credibility will be eroded even more and the link between funding and learning might be laid bare.

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