During MSNBC’s “Public Education Forum 2020: Education and Justice For All” event on Saturday, Democratic presidential frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden publicly committed to “ending the use of standardizing testing in public schools” after a questioner asked about their “history of racism and eugenics.”
Biden made the comment in response to a question from a member of the audience who identified herself as a representative of a Black Lives Matter group.
“Teaching has changed drastically over the last 10 to 20 years,” the questioner said in comments reported by The Daily Caller (video below). “Instead of being allowed to use their expertise to develop engaging curricula that’s culturally responsive, teachers are often forced to use a scripted curriculum that rushes children through without giving them enough time to really understand the material.”
“Many teachers feel more like a test-prep tutor than a test [teacher] of children, and they’re concerned that both teachers and students are heavily evaluated by standardized testing,” she continued. After condemning the “narrow” focus of the tests, the questioner turned the issue to one of “racism.”
“Given that standardized testing is rooted in a history of racism and eugenics, if you are elected president, will you commit to ending the use of standardizing testing in public schools?” she asked, a question that prompted applause from the heavily Democratic audience.
“Yes,” Biden responded.
“As one of my friends and black pastors I’ve spent a lot of time with, Rev. Herring, would say: ‘You’re preaching to the choir, kid.’ OK?” he added.
Without pushing back on the “racism” and “eugenics” claim, Biden continued: “Because look, that’s why teachers, teachers, should be able to determine the curricula in their school.”
The Democratic frontrunner then worked in a shot at some teachers, who he said were frankly “lousy.”
“I’m not trying to be nice,” he said. “There’s some lousy teachers out there, OK? There’s lousy politicians. There’s lousy senators. There’s lousy doctors. I’m not saying every teacher is a great teacher. What I am saying is: You know what it takes to communicate to a child what in fact they need to know.”
Video below via Grabien’s Tom Elliott:
Biden: “Yes,” I’ll ban standardized testing in American schools pic.twitter.com/fZZMuH5wN3
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 14, 2019
As reported by ABC News, MSNBC’s “Equity and Justice” forum Saturday was “organized by the Schott Foundation and 11 other public education and civil rights groups, including the NAACP” and included “more than 1,000 teachers, students, parents and community members.”
During a discussion about continued segregation in some American schools, Biden touted his “record on civil rights.”
“I’m extremely proud of my record on civil rights,” he said, as reported by ABC. “That’s why I have more people in the African-American community supporting me than anybody else. That’s why [President Obama] picked me. I make no apologies for my record on civil rights. It’s been as good or better than anybody in politics.”
During the first Democratic presidential primary debate over the summer, Biden famously got into a heated exchange with former presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris about his track record on civil rights and education.
Harris accused Biden of “work[ing] to oppose busing” designed to help combat school segregation. “And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me,” she said.
“I did not oppose busing in America,” Biden replied. “What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed.”