The New York State Board of Regents, which supervises public education, has decided it will no longer be necessary for would-be teachers to pass an Academic Literacy Skills Test. The reason? The test was producing racially disparate results: Only 41 percent of black candidates and 46 percent of Hispanic candidates had passed the exam on their first attempt, compared to 64 percent of white candidates.
With a Department of Education study putting the number of white public school teachers at over 80 percent with a student body hovering around 50 percent white, advocating for a diverse teaching staff is understandable. If rectifying this imbalance is a priority for the Board of Regents, its members should ensure their methods do not diminish the quality of their educators. They are doing the opposite.
Diversity is not always a good thing, and it shouldn’t be political suicide to say so. There should be no diversity in the quality of our public school teachers. Students should be taught by the best and brightest, whatever color they may be. If the results of the Academic Literacy Skills Test reflect a racial disparity, the solution is not to dissolve the standard or reverse-engineer a test that exactly the same number of whites and minorities can pass. The solution should be to direct resources towards our education system so that all students, regardless of their color, are receiving equally excellent educations and being taught by the most qualified teachers—and so that those students can become those teachers later in their lives. If fewer minorities are passing the ALST, the problem is not with the exam itself, but in the comparative quality of the education minorities receive. Lowering the standards for aspiring teachers will only exacerbate, not solve, this problem.
By eliminating the test, the Board of Regents has prioritized the aim of diversity over the success of its students, and has thus blatantly abandoned its primary responsibility. What is politically expedient is not always right, and in the case of the ALST, it seems the Board of Regents has not done its homework.
The test is predominantly made up of multiple choice questions, so here’s one for those that advocated for the test’s elimination:
What is the purpose of education?
a) To transmit knowledge and values to the students and to arm them with the tools and resources necessary to further educate themselves.
b) To assemble a diverse teaching staff in order to satisfy the standards of what is deemed politically correct.
The Board of Regents has shamed itself with its answer.