Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) isn’t shy about her hopes to upend numerous aspects of American society, from the economy and energy production to immigration and taxes. What’s next on her list? Education.
The Democratic-socialist congresswoman just left D.C. to speak at an education town hall in New York City on Saturday, which featured public education activists who support the elimination of “racially-biased” standardized testing and criticize school choice, along with calling for more government funding of public schools.
Eliminate standardized tests
Ocasio-Cortez was just one of several panelists who attended the event, which was sponsored by Jackson Heights People for Public Schools and included a number of progressive left-leaning education-related groups: the Alliance for Quality Education, Allies for Public Education, Class Size Matters, Network for Public Education, NYC Opt Out and the New York State Association for Bilingual Education, among others.
One of the primary speakers at the town hall was Diane Ravitch, a New York University professor and former assistant secretary of education in the George H.W. Bush administration. She decried of use of standardized tests to evaluate students, specifically with regard toward acceptance at specialized schools that perform better than most public schools, and suggested that parents and students should boycott such tests, describing them as “destructive,” “flawed,” and biased against racial minorities and women.
Ravitch praised public schools and spoke out against “anti-democratic efforts to privatize public goods,” to which Ocasio-Cortez reportedly “nodded in agreement.”
No to “privatization agenda”
The congresswoman spoke at the event as well, and reportedly stated her opposition to the Trump administration’s “privatization agenda” while calling on parents to “organize” an effort to have mandatory testing removed from federal education policy. She also stated that “bilingual education is a right.”
She decried the fact that due to “perverse incentives,” her cousins put their children in charter schools “because the public schools in Hunt’s Point didn’t feel good enough…We should never feel that way. And the moment we start feeling that way is the moment we should start fighting to improve them. Not to reject them.”
AOC further suggested that improving public education needs to be a massive “national movement” on par with her Green New Deal proposal. She did not address the fact that billions and billions of dollars have already been poured into the public school systems, with little demonstrated improvement.
In response to a question, Ocasio-Cortez even waded into a local controversy over the highly-selective specialized schools in New York City, which are being criticized for admitting low numbers of black students. “My question is, why isn’t every public school in NYC a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school? Every one should be,” she said, adding that parents should not adopt a “scarcity mindset.”
Of course, the congresswoman was also caught playing fast and loose with the truth on at least one occasion, for which she was called out by Ravitch. Ocasio-Cortez claimed that her own public school teachers believed she needed remedial education because she was bilingual, and only changed their tune when she performed exceptionally well — in the 99th percentile — on a “high stakes” standardized test.
Except, as Ravitch pointed out in a follow-up blog post, the “high stakes” tests at that time used a 1-4 ranking system, not percentiles. “Well, she can’t know everything about everything. None of us do,” Ravitch wrote.
While eliminating school choice and dumping billions more dollars into public schools may be par for the course for Ocasio-Cortez’s disruptive agenda, and will likely be promoted by the far-left, it sounds like a horrendous idea to freedom-loving parents who want a choice in how their children are educated.