In another sign that public education continues on a downward spiral the New York Times reported last week that a judge in Oakland, California issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from issuing exit exams to high school seniors before they receive their diplomas. The exams which consist of standardized math and English tests were considered discriminatory against impoverished students and students learning English, according to the judge.
Apparently it never occurred to the judge that the exams are a way for the school to ensure that graduates have a minimum level of proficiency so that they can get a job or continue their education. Instead of seeing this as something that helps students it is seen by a liberal activist judge as discriminatory. This also goes to the heart of the immigration debate that immigrants should learn English if they want to live and work here.
If the decision is upheld, more than 47,000 students who failed the exam would receive a diploma. That’s all we need are another 47,000 illiterates. The state plans an immediate appeal, but the judge let it be known that he didn’t think they would succeed. So much for education reform.
In the same story the Times also reported that the school board in Bedford, Massachusetts decided to award diplomas to students who failed that state’s exam which tests competency in math and English at the 10th grade level. Remember that seniors are in 12th grade.
Governor Mitt Romney, a potential Republican candidate for President in 2008 called the move a “gross mistake” and illegal and threatened to withhold $100 million in education aid the state had earmarked for the city.
In Maryland we have a similar requirement and several years passed from the time the exams were approved to the time that they were given to give the system and the students plenty of time to prepare for them. I don’t know how many students fail the test in my area, but I remember several years ago when my daughter was preparing to graduate that she knew several students who had to take the test at least three times. We didn’t hear any cries of discrimination back then.
It is high time that public education stops the practice of social promotion and exit exams which test basic knowledge are one method of doing so. A high school diploma should be awarded only to those who show that they have at least a basic proficiency in math and English so that they won’t wind up on welfare or worse. It is not something we should hand out just because a teenager completed 12 years of schooling and it is expected of society.
Will someone please take responsibility for their actions?
Don Irvine is the chairman of Accuracy in Media, Accuracy in Academia’s parent group.