HOW TO MAKE

NEW YORK DUMBER

New York Post June 5, 2000



It's amazing how some people will just grasp at any straw in their never-ending battle to undo any attempt to impose more rigorous education standards in New York.
Witness Assemblyman Steven Sanders (D-Manhattan) and his allies in the immigrants-rights movement: They've set their sights on the new requirement that all high-school students pass the Regents English exam.
According to Sanders & Co., this heinous obligation is directly responsible for the fact that the school dropout rate among non-English-speaking immigrants rose this year to 23.5 percent.
Sanders, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, is no doubt correct when he describes the trend as "very alarming." But he and his allies are way off the mark when they attribute the higher rate to fear of the Regents exam.
And, in outrageously apocalyptic hyperbole, they are demanding that the state show "flexibility and humaneness" in order to ensure that "they are not writing off a whole generation of kids."
Please.
As state officials note - and the Sanders crowd conveniently ignore - the dropout trend among immigrant students began rising last year.
In other words, before students were required to pass the English Regents.
Moreover, they also ignore the economy as a factor: Traditionally, dropout rates rise when unemployment drops.
And what exactly does Sanders want?
Effectively, it seems, a return to social promotion - passing students routinely upwards from grade to grade even if they can't perform academically.
The Regents requirement was imposed for a single compelling reason: In recent years, a non-Regents high-school diploma in this state hasn't been worth the paper it's written on.
By insisting that students meet at least minimum standards for graduation, Albany is showing precisely the kind of "humaneness" and dedication to students that is needed.