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What Biden's Education Secretary Is Blaming on Worsening Test Scores Is Truly Shameless

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Thanks to school lockdowns championed by the teachers unions--regardless of what American Federation of Teachers' President Randi Weingarten wants to gaslight us into believing--the average national test scores have been abysmal. Late last year, Townhall covered the particularly devastating drop in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math and reading scores. 

Such numbers showed that eighth grade proficiency levels in math dropped from 34 percent in 2019 to 26 percent in 2022. Fourth graders went from 41 percent to 36 percent. Reading levels were at 31 percent proficiency for eighth graders, and 33 percent for fourth grades. Average math levels for fourth graders were at their lowest levels since 2005 and average math levels eighth graders were at their lowest levels since 2003. 

At the time, the Biden administration tried to severely downplay the role of school closures, instead blaming the pandemic, as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did. Out of habit, she also threw the Trump administration under the bus as well. In reality, the Biden administration was being influenced by the teachers unions, as Mia mentioned in a fact-check last October. "A prominent political group influenced a major U.S. public health organization's decision on when and how to reopen schools. The union boss acknowledged that the organization indeed gave the Biden White House input," she wrote in rating the administration's claim as "false."

When it comes to present NAEP numbers to do with history and civics scores, the administration's response hasn't gotten any better. It's arguably gotten worse, as there's now someone else to blame yet again. On Wednesday it was revealed in a Fox News report citing the Associated Press that only 13 percent of students scored are proficient in history, while the number is at 22 percent for civics.

In this instance, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in part blamed book bans in his press release from that same day. Not only did Cardona get political, he also went for debunked hoaxes. 

"The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading. It tells us that now is not the time for politicians to try to extract double-digit cuts to education funding, nor is it the time to limit what students learn in U.S. history and civics classes," his paltry one paragraph statement began, before getting really political. "We need to provide every student with rich opportunities to learn about America’s history and understand the U.S. Constitution and how our system of government works. Banning history books and censoring educators from teaching these important subjects does our students a disservice and will move America in the wrong direction."

That last sentence, an unnecessary one that is what's getting all the attention, is almost certainly a dig at Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). The governor was reelected last November by nearly 20 points, after facing education head-on in a way that empowers parents. DeSantis, who may announce this month that he's running for president, could also be President Joe Biden's opponent in next year's general election.

DeSantis previously addressed claims about book bans, which he has called a "hoax," during a March press conference. While covering the press conferences, local news stations had to cut their feed since DeSantis showcasing certain books was considered too inappropriate. Twitter also had warning messages about "potentially sensitive content." Yet somehow it's okay for the book to be made available to schoolchildren. 

Such books were found in 23 school districts in Florida. As Julio highlighted, of the 175 books removed across the state, 93 percent were removed from media centers and 87 percent were identified as pornographic, violent, or inappropriate for their grade level.

As Guy pointed out when breaking down leftist claims about this so-called book ban, there is a Florida law in response to demands from parents who actually want to know what materials are available to their children. School districts must report to the state any books that parents have challenged as inappropriate, The Washington Times highlighted earlier this year about the law.

"If people believe it's appropriate to have materials about drug-fueled orgies available to elementary schoolers, they're welcome to make that argument. Florida law now says that parents have a right to know that such materials are available, and to object," Guy wrote in February.

Cardona was also likely referring to the College Board's AP course on African American Studies. Back in January, Jean-Pierre had called DeSantis' opposition to the course, some of the content which violates Florida state law, "incomprehensible," perhaps because she didn't bother to even try to understand the governor's reasoning. The press secretary even claimed that "if you think about the study of black Americans, that is what he wants to block."

There had been some secrecy surrounding the curriculum, despite it being introduced in a pilot program of 60 schools. 

Florida law actually requires that African-American history be taught in K-12 classrooms, but there's also a state law that takes issue with Critical Race Theory (CRT) kinds of topics. The DeSantis administration has also expressed a willingness, including in statements provided to Townhall, to reconsider allowing the course should revisions be made. 

As Madeline just recently covered, the College Board announced in a statement that they will indeed be revising the course "over the next few months."

This is hardly the first time the Biden administration has thrown DeSantis under the bus on education. The president himself has done so. The DeSantis War Room was armed and ready to respond, though, and released a video back in March highlighting the governor's accomplishments on the issues. 

It's worth noting that when it comes to the NAEP report card for Florida, the Sunshine State does fairly well, often with scores considered "significantly higher than National public." This is especially when it comes to the 225 fourth grade reading level score, with Florida tying for third highest among all jurisdictions. The 241 fourth grade math score makes it the fifth highest among all jurisdictions. 

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