ColorLines magazine just released their list of “10 Racial Justice Wins for 2013”—and it is impressive.
In a year when George Zimmerman was permitted to legally lynch Trayvon Martin, it can be all too easy to overlook the hard work of racial justice activists around the nation who have scored important victories. Wins for racial justice include activist campaigns that compelled the Associated Press to drop the use the term “illegal immigrant” in its style guide, grassroots efforts that resulted in the FCC forcing private companies who run phone services in prisons to stop charging families a dollar per minuet to speak to incarcerated loved ones, the activism of the Dream Defenders occupying the Florida Governor’s office to demand an end to “stand your ground” laws, and…the victory of the MAP test boycott for high schools in Seattle!
It is a tremendous honor for the educators, students, and parents who joined the MAP test boycott to have our struggle listed among the major victories for racial justice in 2013.
Why was ending this egregious standardized test a victory for racial justice?
As Garfield High School teachers pointed out in our original statement detailing the reasons for the MAP boycott, this test does not respect the linguistic or cultural diversity of English Language Learners. As well, the test was used a gatekeeper for the Advanced Placement Program, an overwhelmingly white program in the Seattle Public Schools. Moreover, we pointed out that the millions of dollars that were being spent on the MAP test would be better spent providing direct services to students in an effort to close the opportunity gap in education.
What ColorLines also no doubt realizes is that high-stakes standardized testing is fueling the school-to-prison pipeline. A recent study by Boston University professor Kevin Lang, “The effect of high school exit exams on graduation, employment, wages, and incarceration,” reveals that the biggest impact of the increased use of high-stakes exams in the public schools has been increased incarceration rates.
Today, there are more African Americans behind bars than were slaves on plantations in 1850. It’s time we used our nation’s resources not to test and punish; not to endless rank and sort our youth; but provide them with small class sizes, tutors, authentic forms of assessment, cultural relevant curriculum, and other supports they need to succeed.
The MAP test boycott demonstrated that educators can insert their voice into the debate about education reform and rally and entire community to a better vision for the public schools.
It’s your turn to make history in 2014!
What Valerie Strauss’ “Best and worst education news of 2013″ means for the state of education:
Valerie Strauss, who runs the Washington Post blog, “The Answer sheet”, has complied an insightful list of the “Best and worst education news of 2013.” Strauss’ list is a must read to understand the current political moment in the struggle for the public schools–both the great potential and the bitter struggles to come.
The “Best Education News” included the Seattle MAP test boycott and the decision by several states to delay their use of Common Core high-stakes, standardized tests–revealing the growing influence of organized students, parents, and teachers who have been building a national grassroots movement to oppose the abuses of standardized testing. I am incredibility proud of my colleagues at Garfield High School who launched the MAP test boycott and helped inspire an uprising around the country to reclaim our classrooms from testing companies.
The “Worst Education News” included the mass school closures in Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as dramatically low teacher morale across the country. These stories demonstrate that, even in the face of a growing movement to defend public education, the corporate education reformers are as determined as ever to reduce the intellectual process of teaching and learning to a single score for the purpose of closing schools, demoralizing teachers, and weakening their unions.
Which side will win–the corporate reformers or the masses of families and educators–remains to be seen. But at least now there are two sides to this national struggle.
Must Watch Video: Support the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers in a historic contract battle against standardized testing and in defense of the public schools
Must watch video about the Saint Paul Teacher’s struggle to defend public Education–Please send out far and wide!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrAXRdoDsCI
Petition in support of Saint Paul Teachers: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/st-paul-public-schools
The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is in one of the most important struggles to defend public education and have taken one of the boldest stances against standardized testing in the country. While the state mandates that students take the MCA standardized test, the SPFT—with the support of their many parent and community allies—know that it is a waste of time and resources and are attempting to bargain it out of their contract.
Beyond reducing standardized testing, SPFT’s contract proposal advocates for attracting and retaining teachers of color, education for the whole child, family teacher partnerships, smaller class sizes, culturally relevant education, high quality professional development, and preschool for all.
Yet on September 19, management at the St. Paul Public Schools walked out of negotiations and asked the state mediator to close negotiations to the public so parents and other members of the community couldn’t hear what we were talking about.
The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, have worked hard over the last year to partner with parents, students and community members to identify the top priorities to deliver the schools St. Paul children deserve. Combined with research, they turned these priorities into an amazing report, “The Schools Saint Paul Students deserve”, which should serve as a model for educators around the nation. That proposals can be seen at: http://www.spft.org/
Over the last few weeks, SPFT members have been having conversations and collecting signatures from over a thousand community members on this petition. Please join those that have already pledged their support by signing today!
Their struggle is ours!
I first met Sue Peters at a gathering of the newly formed ESP Vision—Educators, Students, and Parents for a Better Vision of the Seattle Schools. When the investment banks and insurance companies sabotaged the global economy in 2008, we were told there wasn’t enough money to keep our schools open. Sue Peters didn’t believe it, and she was one of the lead activists who helped organize all of the schools slated for closure in a united effort to stop the school closures. Sue Peters argued then that the school closures were folly as the projections showed increases in school aged population in the very neighborhoods with schools slated for closure. She pointed out that the schools slated for closures served a population that was a majority students of color. And she pointed out that closing schools and then reopening them later will drain millions of dollars from the school district budget. While we were able to remove several schools from the list, in the end they went through with closing 5 schools.
Sue Peters’ opposition to the closures has since been vindicated. The District is scrambling to deal with over-enrollment, the Department of Education is investigating the Seattle Public Schools for disproportionate discipline and the 2008 school closures that targeted schools serving predominantly students of color, and it is now widely acknowledged that school closings were disruptive and a disastrous policy in Seattle.
Since that time, I have seen Sue become one of the most articulate and inspiring spokespeople for public education in the city of Seattle. Her article, “15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP” provided teachers at Garfield the research they needed to organize and refuse to give the test. Her co-founding of the Parents Across America chapter in Seattle has proven an invaluable voice in the public education debate in our region. Her service on two Seattle School District task-forces helped produce a much improved strategic vision for the goals of the Seattle Public Schools. Sue Peters has a clear record of being a voice for all of us teachers, parents and students in Seattle in the struggle against corporate education reformers.
Whoever wins in the School Board race between Sue Peters and Suzanne Dale Estey will have a big impact on public education in the region. And this race also has national implications for parents, students, and teachers around the country who are organizing to stop the corporate reform agenda of our public schools. As Diane Ravitch wrote on her blog,
“Suzanne Dale Estey, has raised over $100,000, plus an independent PAC has raised more than another $100,000 for Estey. That means that Sue Peters is outspent about 7-1. Estey has raised more money for her contest than any school board race in the state’s history. Read the list of Estey’s contributors: it is the same handful of wealthy entrepreneurs who have been pouring big money into election after election in Seattle and in the state of Washington, to promote charters, test-based evaluation, Teach for America, and other failed policies. Few, if any, of Estey’s donors have children in the Seattle public schools.”
This election is about big money versus big ideas and the outcome will reverberate around the nation. If Dales Estey wins it will further embolden billionaires to take the position that money equals free speech, and they will step up their efforts to buy school board elections from sea to shining sea. It’s time to show the power of our grass-roots education movement to defeat their money.
Voters have their ballots. Cast yours today for Sue Peters and educational justice.
For more information, go to: http://suepeters4schoolboard.org/
Video: “Reframing the Purpose of Education” and Testing at NBC’s Nationally Broadcast “Education Nation” Program
Public education advocates such as Education Week writer Anthony Cody have noted that NBC’s nationally live broadcast program, “Education Nation,” too often has excluded voices of educators and critics of the corporate education reform agenda. When I got the call to participate, I was surprised and unsure if my voice would truly be heard. I spoke with other Garfield High School educators about the opportunity, and they counseled that if time was provided to describe the collective action we took in boycotting the MAP test last year, then it would be worth it. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to describe the actions of my colleagues at Garfield on the program. There will be a link on the MSNBC website to that description sometime next week. For now they have posted a link of my response to NBC nightly news host, Brian Williams, question “You’re not against testing are you?”, I responded in this way on the “Teacher Town Hall” panel.
Coverage of those in support of authentic assessment over standardized testing at “Education Nation” include:
- Education Week wrote of Josh Starr, Randi Weingarten, and my contribution to Education Nation as a “Clash in NYC” with testing advocates.
- Students Raise Their Voice: Student Town Hall
- NEA Today—the news magazine of the largest teachers’ union in the country—wrote:
“The fourth annual Education Nation Summit is underway in New York, and one of the stars of the show is NEA member and high school teacher Jesse Hagopian. The theme for this year’s summit is “What it Takes” for the nation to ensure students are successfully prepared for college, career and beyond, and Hagopian emphatically argued that what it takes is an end to “drill and kill” testing.
All in all, I was very happy to be able to help inject a serious debate on a national level about the corrosive nature of standardized testing on public education and the many important alternative ways to assess student leaning that promote the kind of critical thinking education our nation so desperately needs.
Sign up to follow Jesse Hagopian’s blog at: http://www.IAmAnEducator.com/
Follow Jesse Hagopian on twitter at: https://twitter.com/JessedHagopian
NBC’s “Education Nation” to include Jesse Hagopian on MAP test boycott–Live on Sun, Oct. 6, 12:00-2:00 PM ET
Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian will speak about the MAP test boycott on the live national broadcast of MSNBC’s Education Nation “Teacher Town Hall,” at 12:00 – 2:00 PM ET/9:00—11:00 AM PT.
NBC’s annual “Education Nation” summit is a three day extravaganza exploring “What It Takes” for the nation “to ensure students are successfully prepared for college, career and beyond” as they put it. This should be an important opportunity to raise the big questions about the direction of public education. NBC, however, has come under increasing fire for marginalizing the voices of educators who are critical of the corporate education reform agenda.
While not allowing many important voices of those who oppose these corporate reforms on the panel discussions at Education Nation, NBC has agreed to highlight the story of the MAP test boycott in Seattle and will call on me to speak about it at the “Teacher Town Hall” event. It is clear that the power of the testing boycott could not be denied, as it has become a source of inspiration for a growing national movement to reclaim public education from those who seek to reduce the intellectual process of teaching and learning to single number–and then use that score to close schools, fire teachers, or stop students from graduating.
Spread the word and tune in to watch my challenge to the high-stakes testing!
Sign up to follow Jesse Hagopian’s blog at http://www.IAmAnEducator.com
Follow Jesse Hagopian on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/JessedHagopian
Jesse Hagopian’s Testimony On Testing: Educators provide first-hand account to the Congressional Black Caucus of how destructive ed reforms hurt students
Photo: Seattle educator Jesse Hagopian at CBC Foundation 43rd Annual Legislative Conference
by Brian Washington
Jesse Hagopian spent the first three years of his teaching career in the District of Columbia—working with fifth-graders at an elementary school in the Southeast. He recently returned to the nation’s capital to, once again, put his knowledge as an educator to good use—this time giving members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and those attending its Annual Legislative Conference, a lesson about the impact of destructive education reform policies—like high-stakes testing—on children.
“There is a study that just came out that shows high-stakes testing is leading to higher incarceration rates,” said Hagopian, who now teaches World History and American Government at a high school in Seattle, Wash. “Policy makers are just pushing it more and more, and it’s having a destructive impact on our students.”
Hagopian, who recently joined forces with students, parents and other educators in Seattle to take a stand against harmful standardized tests, was one of the featured panelists in a discussion examining the negative impact of the tests and parent trigger laws and how school community partnerships can positively impact learning. ….
The momentum of the national movement for authentic assessment shows no signs of abating. Already this year, teachers in St. Paul, MN have attempted to buck state law in defense of quality assessment by attempting to bargain a contract that does not include standardized testing as part of evaluations. Teachers in California just helped get legislation through the State Congress that puts a moratorium on the testing for the year. A new PDK/Gallup educational survey shows Americans are fed up with high-stakes testing: Only 22% of Americans–less than one in four–believe increased testing has helped the performance of local public schools and 58% reject using student test scores to evaluate teachers.
In an effort to extend last year’s “education spring” into a full-blown democratic revolution in education, Jesse Hagopian is hitting the road this fall to speak to parents, students, teachers, and community members about a vision for education that is about empowering our youth to solve the problems in our society and using authentic forms of assessment to nurture that kind of learning.
You can contact Jesse here to inquire about brining him to your community.
|Washington, D.C.||September 19th, 2013||United States Congress: Congressional Black Caucus hearing.||Jesse Hagopian testifies to the Congressional Black Caucus on the impact of high stakes testing and school closures on education|
|Washington, D.C.||September 21th, 2013||Bammy Awards||The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences holds an annual award ceremony for teachers, “The Bammy Awards.” Jesse Hagopian is one of five nominees nationally who is being considered for the honor of “secondary teacher of the year.”|
|Los Angeles, CA||October 4th, 2013||PEAC Conference||TBD|
|Los Angeles, CA||October 4th-6th||Reclaiming the Promise of Public Schools: Community and Labor Organizing Together for Educational and Social Justice.||The NEA Department of Minority Community Organizing is joining with the AFT on this upcoming conference|
|Maui, HI||October, 17th||2013 Teacher Institute||Hawaii Sate Teachers Association is holding its annual conference with the theme, “Leading the Way.”|
|Seattle, WA||October, 19th||Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference||Rethinking Schools holds this annual conference with hundreds of educations from around the region. Jesse will join a panel of Garfield teachers and students to discuss, “Scrap The MAP: How to boycott a standardized test.”|
|Louisville, KA||December, 6th||Unity Conference||This annual social justice conference is sponsored by the Kentucky Alliance civil rights organization.|
|Orlando, FL||Jan., 2014||NEA||TBD|