On Monday, the New York Board of Regents announced that it would dump the Academic Literacy Skills Test. They didn’t dump the test, which was designed to test teachers on reading ability in order to raise standards, because there was anything wrong with the test per se. They dumped it because too many minority teachers were failing it.
One of the members of the task force that looked at the teacher certification tests, Professor Leslie Soodak of Pace University, said, “Having a white workforce really doesn’t match our student body anymore.” And it turns out that, according to ABC News, 54 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of blacks who took the test failed it on the first try, as opposed to just 36 percent of whites. Does that mean the test was racist? Not at all – a federal judge in New York, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, ruled that the test was fine. But that wasn’t enough for the state of New York, where it’s more important that your teacher is black than that your teacher can read and understand material well.
Soodak’s comments were echoed by National Council on Teacher Quality president Kate Walsh, who summarily dismissed test results: “There’s not a test in the country that doesn’t have a disproportionate performance on the part of blacks and Latinos.” But she acknowledged that getting rid of the test would be a step in the wrong direction.
Here’s the problem: the students.
There’s a bizarre notion on the Left that students learn better from teachers of equal quality so long as the teacher shares a race with those students. A good deal of research finds weak or no evidence to substantiate such claims. And that’s assuming that the teachers are of equal quality. There’s no evidence that an inferior teacher of the same race is better for a student than a superior teacher of a different race. Yet it’s this latter hypothesis that New York wants to now pursue.
So New York state now wants to sublimate the interest of its students to the interests of political correctness. Better for a black child to have a black teacher who failed the ALST than to have a white teacher who passed it. Statistically, this means a higher likelihood that a black child will have an underqualified teacher than a white child, since we’re now attempting to race-sort rather than hire more meritorious teachers. That creates new intergenerational pathologies of failed education. For which, presumably, the Left will blame white racism and test discrimination without evidence.
Meanwhile, the kids continue to fail.
Well done, New York.