Three things caught my eye in yesterday’s scalding Times bon voyage Betsy Devos editorial.
First, The Times remains committed to assessment, a position dating to the pre-NCLB days:
However, given a shortage of testing data for Black, Hispanic and poor children, it could well be that these groups have fared worse in the pandemic than their white or more affluent peers. The country needs specific information on how these subgroups are doing so that it can allocate educational resources strategically.
Beyond that, parents need to know where their children stand after such a sustained period without much face-to-face instruction. Given these realities, the new education secretary — whoever he or she turns out to be — should resist calls to put off annual student testing.
(Related, they identify NWEA as a research organization. Yes, they do research and are a non-profit. And, they are also a major assessment vendor. I raise this not to nitpick but because coverage of and advocacy about assessment is often confused on stuff like this. AIR, for instance, was a big assessment player for years but rarely was covered the way other vendors were.)
Second, it’s a muted endorsement of Education Secretary designee Miguel Cardona. Perhaps this is a local thing? He’s popular in Connecticut but behind the scenes people there are raising questions about whether he’s ready fo the 10 things coming at your head at once life of an agency head.*
Third, no mention of the Title IX sexual assault issue. That seems like a noteworthy omission given that the editorial was a laundry list of DeVos moves and it’s a high profile issue. The Times op-ed page has run thoughtful commentary on the issue and the paper has noted the battle lines are not as clear as a casual observer might think.
*In a pre-holiday column for The 74 my take on this was,
If there is a risk, it’s that it’s a big jump from being an assistant superintendent in a small district, which Cardona was less than a year and half ago, to U.S. secretary of education. But that’s a manageable challenge for someone willing to put in the work.
I’d argue that was no small part of DeVos’ problem, tripped her up in the early going and she never recovered.