A New York teacher exposes our state school-system sham


What is the point of an end-of-school-year exam? New York state seems unsure.

A teacher has put out a detailed exposé proving a child can pass New York’s algebra Regents exam by simply guessing all Cs.

Ed Knight weaves on Medium a great tale of a student named River who finds himself in legal trouble and ends up missing most of the school year. Knight admits he has a soft spot for River, a child of a single father who lives in a trailer, and when River comes to him for advice on taking an exam for which he has zero knowledge, Knight suggests the “Cs” trick.

What’s absolutely appalling is that it worked. River actually deviated to two B answers when both correct answers were C — and still managed to pass the exam.

Knight explains this works because a student needs to score only 19.8% to pass the exam. A travesty.

While we may all know about the end of merit and rigor in our public schools and how dumbed-down our schools have become, seeing it in such stark terms is still jarring. What’s the point of a test that can be passed with guesswork? What’s the point of school if a kid can guess on the exam, pass it and move on to the next grade?

What’s worse is that this is happening mostly to public-school kids. They take the Regents exam to showcase what they’ve learned; it’s a part of their final grade in the course. Some private schools use Regents tests, but academically rigorous ones do not. Knight notes the exams are “state tests with college scholarships and graduation requirements on the line.” And a kid needs only 19.8% to pass it. Shameful.

Would private-school parents, who want rigor, stand for it? Would they accept their kid not needing to hit 20% on a test to succeed? Why should public-school parents with fewer options be made to accept such failure?

Of course, one can argue it’s a win that the algebra Regents gets administered at all. Last school year, the history Regents was canceled statewide due to a mass shooting in Buffalo. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s because it doesn’t make sense.

It’s wrong that those without means have their kids stuck in systems that deemphasize education in this way. It’s an embarrassment for the New York school system. But it’s also abominable that kids who don’t just guess all Cs on this weak exam — who actually put in the work and study — can’t easily exit this system for a real education.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey allows families to decide whether the public school system is right for them.
AP/Ross D. Franklin

Recently, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law an expansive bill granting Arizonan families school choice. The law gives up to $7,000 per family to opt out of the public-school system. It was so popular that the state’s school-choice website crashed when it went into effect. In February, Wisconsin’s school-choice website similarly crashed.

Parents want options. It’s not right that only rich parents have those options in New York.

Corey DeAngelis, a school-choice activist whose tagline “Fund students, not systems” has resonated with parents across the country, told me, “New York is way behind the curve on school choice. New York doesn’t have any initiatives allowing families to take their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

New york students
Some private schools use Regents tests, but academically rigorous ones do not.
Getty Images/Michael Loccisano

He added, “Children shouldn’t be trapped in failing government schools any longer. Education funding is meant for educating children, not for protecting a particular institution.”

Parents wouldn’t be making a run from public-school systems if their child’s academic needs were being met. But academics seem to be a side hustle at schools right now, something teachers will get around to after they finish going over gender ideology and critical race theory. Every moment spent on woke ideology is a moment not spent on academics. And it shows.

Knight exposed how broken the New York state system really is. Now it’s up to parents to demand New York do something about it.

Twitter: @Karol


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