Help Elect RESPECT: Donate to support social justice union slate & Jesse Hagopian’s bid for president of the Seattle Education Association

We need your help raising $1,000 to help us reclaim public education

I am writing to ask for your support in my bid to be the president of the Seattle Education Association (SEA)–the union representing teachers, instructional assistants, councilors, clerical workers, and support staff who work in the Seattle Public Schools.

SEE RESPECT candidates and supporters at a campaign event.

No one I have talked to can remember a time when a union president incumbent was unseated in Seattle. We are attempting to make history in this election and we have already created a healthy and rigorus debate about the way forward for public education.

Time is running out to support this effort.  On-line voting in the SEA union election begins Sunday, 4/27/14 at 12:01am and ends on Wednesday, 5/07/14, at 11:59pm. Please consider supporting our slate with your financial contribution and help us reclaim public education.  Below is an appeal from the RESPECT campaign team with more details.

Please consider donating to our Indiegogo fundraising campaign to help make our vision of social justice unionism a reality. I can’t thank you enough for your support.

Best,

-Jesse Hagopian

Dear Friends,

Elections for leadership of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) are coming right up and ballots will be cast at the end of April. On behalf of Social Equality Educators (SEE) and the many brothers and sisters working with us on the RESPECT campaign toward the common goal of strengthening our union, we are campaigning to ask you to make a financial contribution to support the campaign . We have assembled a remarkable group of educators on the SEE “RESPECT” ticket –award-winners and National Board Certified Teachers, experienced educators and those newer to the profession – to run for union office. We have over a dozen candidates, including Jesse Hagopian for SEA president, Marian Wagner for SEA Vice President, and Dan Troccoli for SEA Treasurer.

Together, we are confident we can achieve the contract educators deserve, the schools our students deserve, and the city our families deserve. Our record of supporting the MAP test boycott showed we could unite students, parents, and educators in a common struggle to defend–and transform–public education.

We have already been endorsed by Dr. John Carlos, 1968 Olympic medalist, medal stand protester, Gerald Hankerson, President of the King County/Seattle NAACP, Nick Licata, Seattle City Council MemberDr. Wayne Au, Editor at Rethinking Schools and Professor at University of Washington Bothell, and Robert Wood, Professor President of the UW American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Bob George, National Director, Save Our Schools, Dave Zirin,sports editor The Nation Magazine, Dora Taylor, President of Parents Across America, Tim Harris, Founder and Director of Real Change newspaper, and many others!

http://socialequalityeducators.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Screen-shot-2014-02-17-at-10.37.48-AM.png

Vice Presidential RESPECT candidate Marian Wagner at the campaign kickoff event.

The Respect slate of candidates stands for:

  • A union that will fight for a strong contract. When we ask for less than what is required to do our jobs well, we cannot serve our students effectively, or be true to the passion that brings us into the classroom.
  • A union that will demand full funding of education. This will only happen if we insist lawmakers adhere to the law.
  • A union that will stand for fair and sustainable teacher evaluation. Evaluation should empower us to continually improve our professional practice and care for our students—it should not simply serve as a “gotcha” tool for administrators.
  • A union that protects our right to teach culturally relevant curriculum and works to replace disproportionate disciplinary procedures with restorative justice. Seattle’s students deserve a holistic education that fosters critical thinking and civic engagement.
  • We need a union that brings families and community members into the schools as partners and collaborators.
  • A union that empowers the union membership to be an active voice.
  • A union that keeps us updated with accurate information and invites us to take an active role in a truly member-driven association.
  • A union that will join the growing national movement to fight for fair and meaningful student assessments, including opportunities to pilot performance-based alternatives to high-stakes testing.

To endorse the SEE Respect union campaign visit http://socialequalityeducators.org/endorse-the-campaign/ .

“An Act of Conscience”: Teachers at New York’s Earth School boycott Common Core Tests!

Teachers at the Earth School in NYC who protested in support of the Seattle MAP test boycott in 2013

Last spring I was invited to the Earth School in the East Village of New York City to speak at a forum about the lessons of the MAP test boycott that I helped to organize in Seattle. Earth School 4th and 5th grade teacher Jia Lee, along with insurgent teacher union activists in MORE and parents in Change The Stakes, helped organize the event and a powerful conversation about organizing test resistance ensued.

Now, a year later, you can imagine my elation when I received an email from Jia announcing that three teachers at the Earth School declared to their administration and public schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña that they will not proctor Common Core state standardized tests this year — or ever — saying in a letter that they “can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children.”

 

http://jessehagopian.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/3b2df-screenshot2013-04-12at1-57-55pm.png?w=286&h=369

Flyer from my visit to the Earth School last year to talk about resisting standardized testing.

They go on to write, “As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.”

They are joining a wave of boycotts and opting out of standardized tests from parents, students and teachers—including the teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary School in Chicago who are refusing to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).

Earth School Teacher Jia Lee

Teachers at the Earth School have helped form the organization Teachers of Conscience, a group of public school teachers in New York City concerned about market-based reforms and the future of public education. Teachers of Conscience has authored a remarkable letter and position paper that powerfully unravels the lies behind the standardized testing craze, explains the authentic assessment alternative, and demonstrates exactly why educators should be the people consulted about education policy before billionaires.

 

Read the letter below. Sign the petition in support of these teachers. Then join the movement.

Teachers of Conscience

April, 2014

“The ongoing wars, the distortions of truth we have witnessed, the widening gaps between rich and poor disturb us more than we can say; but we have had so many reminders of powerlessness that we have retreated before the challenge of bringing such issues into our classrooms. At once, we cannot but realize that one of our primary obligations is to try to provide equal opportunities for the young. And we realize full that this cannot happen if our students are not equipped with what are thought to be survival skills, not to speak of a more or less equal range of literacies. And yet the tendency to describe the young as “human resources,” with the implication that they are mainly grist for the mills of globalized business is offensive not merely to educators, but to anyone committed to resist dehumanization of any kind.”

- Maxine Greene, In Search of a Pedagogy

Dear Chancellor Carmen Fariña,

We are teachers of public education in the City of New York. We are writing to distance ourselves from a set of policies that have come to be known as market-based education reform. We recognize that there has been a persistent and troubling gulf between the vision of individuals in policymaking and the work of educators, but we see you as someone who has known both positions and might therefore be understanding of our position. We find ourselves at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education. We can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. We will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking. We can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a city-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. We have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.

As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.

The policies of Common Core have been misguided, unworkable, and a serious failure of implementation. At no time in the history of education reform have we witnessed the ideological ambitions of policymakers result in such a profound disconnect with the experiences of parents, teachers, and children. There is a growing movement of dissatisfied parents who are refusing high-stakes Common Core testing for their children and we are acting in solidarity with those parents. Reformers in the State Department of Education are now making gestures to slow down implementation and reform their reforms. Their efforts represent a failure of imagination — an inability to envision an education system based on human development and democratic ideals rather than an allegiance to standardization, ranking, and sorting. State policies have placed haphazard and burdensome mandates on schools that are profoundly out of touch with what we know to be inspired teaching and learning. Although the case against market-based education reform has been thoroughly written about, we feel obliged to outline our position at length to address critics who may see our choice of action as overstepping or unwarranted. You will find a position paper attached to this letter. We are urging you, Chancellor Fariña, to articulate your own position in this critical and defining moment in the history of public education. What will you stand for? What public school legacy will we forge together?

Sincerely,

Colin Schumacher, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

Emmy Matias, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

Jia Lee, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

 

 

Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality: Support the publication of this new book for educators

20140401141350-rsgs_sqsmVIDEO: Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality

Supporters of social justice education will be thrilled to learn that Rethinking Schools is currently working on a new book, Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality. In order to put this invaluable tool in the hands of educators, we need your support. Please consider donating to this book project.

From Rethinking Schools:

Help us publish this awesome book!

This book was born a few summers ago when Jody Sokolower, Rethinking Schools’ managing editor, and RS editor Melissa Bollow Tempel sat down in Jody’s kitchen to discuss an article Melissa was writing. “It’s OK to Be Neither” is the story of Melissa’s growth as a teacher when Allie, a student who is gender nonconforming, joined her class. Until then, Melissa had not realized how customs like lining up by girls and boys could create problems for students who do not fit neatly into the female/male binary.

“It’s OK to Be Neither” really struck a chord. As Melissa tells it, “We never dreamed it would be shared more than 45,000 times on one blog alone.” Allie is not unique. Gender nonconforming kids are in schools everywhere, and teachers want to know how to support them.

Gender identity is just one of many issues addressed in Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality. The book includes sections on:

  • creating safe and nurturing classrooms
  • coming out at school as a teacher or student
  • integrating feminist and LGBTQ content into curriculum
  • moving beyond the classroom to school and community
  • teacher education

Want to check out a sample article or two?

Download these article PDFs for a sneak peek.

Jam-packed with thought-provoking articles by teachers, parents, and students

Jody and Melissa are working with three other wonderful editors—Kim Cosier in Milwaukee, Jeff Sapp in Los Angeles, and Rachel Harper in Chicago—and dozens of inspiring, dedicated teacher/writers.

We know that Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality will be an amazing resource for everyone working to change attitudes and strengthen communities so our schools will be safe and supportive places where all kids can learn.

Support students, teachers, and families

Won’t it make you feel good to know that your dollars empowered a teacher to speak up in defense of a lesbian student at a staff meeting? Or supported a teacher as he decides whether to come out to his students? Or helped a big sister who pretends she doesn’t know her gender nonconforming little brother?

Your contributions will fund the production for this amazing book. That means copyediting, proofreading, and indexing; art direction and layout; printing and distribution.

Join our campaign today! Tell your friends!

Besides feeling good about making the world a better place, you can also earn some cool perks for donating:

  • A sticker depicting our beautiful book cover
  • Subscriptions to our award-winning magazine
  • Copies of the book
  • Acknowledgement in the book of your generosity

 

Old School/New School: Mail a letter or sign a petition to curb high-stakes testing

npe-call-mailingThe Education Spring is blooming as people across the country are building resistance to the abuses of standardized, high-stakes testing.  There are two ways for you to get involved in this movement today:

1) Go New School

Sign the petition to the Obama administration, “Direct the Department of Education & Congress to Remove Annual Standardized Testing Mandates of NCLB and RttT”

2) Go Old School

On March 2, 2014, The Network for Public Education issued a call for congressional hearings into the overuse and abuse of tests in our schools.

Together, we have managed to catch the attention of Congress, we created a Twitter Storm that sent out over 20K tweets and reached 400K people via social media while trending #1, and the offices of Congress members were flooded with phone calls from concerned constituents. We continue to bring attention to the plague of over-testing and the media is beginning to take notice!

For the next part of our campaign, we’re going old school. During the month of April, we are asking our Friends & Allies to print out and mail a copy of this letter to the offices of our friends at Campaign for America’s Future in Washington D.C.. We will deliver our letters to Congress. Keep an eye out for a date and press conference details!

We are asking our Friends & Allies to take an extra step – print out a copy, slap on a stamp and drop it in a mail box. You might want to make copies and bring them to PTA meetings or pass them out to your friends and family. In this age of email and electronic media, mail in campaigns are not very common. This will make our presentation to Congress that much more effective.

WE ARE MANY. THERE IS POWER IN OUR NUMBERS. TOGETHER WE WILL SAVE OUR SCHOOLS.

NPE WRITE IN CAMPAIGN LETTER:
http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/npe-call-mailing.pdf

PRESS RELEASE:
http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/press-release-npe-calls-for-congressional-hearings/

SUMMARY:
http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/npe-call-for-congressional-hearings-summary/

FULL TEXT:
http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/npe-calls-for-congressional-hearings-full-text/[/notification]

These Seattle Teachers Boycotted Standardized Testing—and Sparked a Nationwide Movement

[This article was written for Education Uprising, the Spring 2014 issue of YES! Magazine.  To support many of the MAP test boycott leaders who are now running for office in their union, visit http://socialequalityeducators.org/ ]

Parents, students, and teachers all over the country have joined the revolt to liberate our kids from a test-obsessed education system.

Kris McBride, Garfield’s academic dean and testing coordinator, at left, and Jesse Hagopian, Garfield history teacher and a leader of the school’s historic test boycott. Photo by Betty Udesen.

by Diane Brooks

Life felt eerie for teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High in the days following their unanimous declaration of rebellion last winter against standardized testing. Their historic press conference, held on a Thursday, had captured the attention of national TV and print media. But by midday Monday, they still hadn’t heard a word from their own school district’s leadership.

Then an email from Superintendent José Banda hit their in-boxes. Compared with a starker threat issued a week later, with warnings of 10-day unpaid suspensions, this note was softly worded. But its message was clear: a teacher boycott of the district’s most-hated test—the MAP, short for Measures of Academic Progress—was intolerable.

Jittery teachers had little time to digest the implications before the lunch bell sounded, accompanied by an announcement over the intercom: a Florida teacher had ordered them a stack of hot pizzas, as a gesture of solidarity.

“It was a powerful moment,” said history teacher Jesse Hagopian, a boycott leader. “That’s when we realized this wasn’t just a fight at Garfield; this was something going on across the nation. If we back down, we’re not just backing away from a fight for us. It’s something that educators all over see as their struggle too. I think a lot of teachers steeled their resolve, that we had to continue.”

Parents, students, and teachers all over the country soon would join the “Education Spring” revolt. As the number of government-mandated tests multiplies, anger is mounting over wasted school hours, “teaching to the test,” a shrinking focus on the arts, demoralized students, and perceptions that teachers are being unjustly blamed for deeply rooted socioeconomic problems.

“You’re seeing a tremendous backlash,” said Carol Burris, award-winning principal of South Side High School in New York City and an education blogger for The Washington Post. “People are on overload. They are angry at the way data and testing are being used to disrupt education.”

Last spring, New York became the first major state to implement Common Core State Standards testing, a key element of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative. Burris has compiled data showing a dramatic increase in the time children and teens spend taking New York state tests. Fifth-graders are the hardest-hit, with testing time ballooning from 170 minutes in 2010 to 540 minutes in 2013.

Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University in New York City, estimates that parents of about 10,000 students across the state joined the “opt-out” movement in April, refusing to submit their youth to Common Core tests. “Probably the largest test revolt in modern American history,” he said.

Inspired by New York’s grassroots revolution, Naison co-founded the Badass Teachers Association (BAT), which by mid-January had 36,443 members and chapters in all 50 states. Florida has the largest representation, with more than 1,575 BAT teachers.

“It takes a lot of courage to speak out. This group says, ‘You’re not alone.’ If we stand up for one another, we can speak back,” Naison said. “We have brilliant people who know how to create websites, fan pages, a YouTube channel. We’ve got this amazingly flexible organization.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave the opt-out movement a public-relations gift in November, when he labeled the emerging bloc of mainstream opponents to Common Core testing “white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

Duncan previously had blamed Tea Party extremists for Common Core’s bad rap. And indeed, conservative Republicans are among the program’s greatest critics. They see an alarming federal usurpation of control over local schools and are deeply suspicious of standardized curriculum requirements that they fear promote a liberal agenda.
But on this issue, they’re joined by progressive Democrats—including the BAT contingent—who are outraged that teachers and schools might be blamed and punished for low test scores. Multiple-choice tests on a handful of subjects can’t measure a teacher’s impact on students’ lives or provide meaningful insights into student learning, they say.

“Instead of dealing with issues of poverty, racially isolated schooling, a lack of social services in communities, this [policy] is built on test scores,” said Burris.
Or, as BAT co-founder Priscilla Sanstead says in her Twitter banner: “Rating a teacher in a school with high poverty based on their student test data is like rating a dentist who works in Candyland based on their patient tooth decay data.”

How did we get here?

David Labaree, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, traces the federal government’s creeping control over classrooms back to the Cold War era, when the Sputnik launch triggered the Space Race. In the ’70s and ’80s, fears that the Russians were getting ahead of the United States gave way to worries about the Japanese and Germans. Now it’s the Chinese, he said.

The ’70s marked the first time “high stakes” tests began to emerge, with impacts on grade promotions and graduation requirements, Labaree said. Until then, teachers had a great deal of autonomy over textbook selection and classroom practices; schools were considered successful if graduates found jobs and social mobility was taking place.

The standards movement promoted a narrow emphasis on academic curricula—mostly math and English, plus some science and social studies—as a key element of the U.S. race for economic and political supremacy in the international arena, he said. The modern trend toward “high stakes” tests, which can carry significant impacts on teachers’ careers, has profoundly changed what is—and isn’t—taught.

“It broke down the classroom door,” Labaree said. “It puts a huge pressure on teachers to toe the line and start teaching to the test. It’s changed the nature of a teacher’s work in a way that’s quite devastating. ‘Look, I’m part of a machinery here to raise test scores. I’m not really a teacher any more, I’m just an efficient delivery system of human capital skills.’ That’s the new language.”

Jesse Hagopian photo by Betty Udesen

Race to the Top

The “accountability” movement got a big boost in 2002, when President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. For the first time, all public schools receiving federal funding were required to test students every year in grades three through eight, plus once during high school, using standardized state tests in math and reading.

President Barack Obama and Secretary Duncan unveiled the Race to the Top contest in 2009. To be eligible for a share of the program’s $4.35 billion in grants, states were required to adopt the Common Core standards for math and language arts. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia fully signed up. Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska declined any participation. Minnesota partially joined, rejecting the math standards.

Among the requirements: using test results to evaluate teachers.
Now many states are rethinking their commitment to Common Core. Eight states have reversed, suspended, or significantly delayed implementation. Legislatures in other states continue to debate the issues.

Some states are backing out because of technology issues. Oklahoma, for instance, found that just one in five schools had enough Internet bandwidth and computers to administer the tests, a state official told Education Weekly. And the state projected that classroom time devoted to taking the tests would jump from two or three hours to nine hours.

Seattle’s Garfield High teachers cite similar technology issues in their litany of testing complaints. The MAP test, for instance, forced the closure of all three Garfield computer labs for four months of each school year.

Seattle teachers’ contracts allow MAP results to be used in their evaluations, even though an official from the company that created the test has expressed concerns about the appropriateness of such use. The school district administration says teacher evaluations do not currently include MAP scores.

Garfield’s testing coordinator, Kris McBride, planted the seeds of revolution in December 2012 when she told frustrated remedial-reading teacher Mallory Clarke, “You can refuse to give the test!” The two women first sought—and won—support from the language arts and math departments, then asked for the backing of the entire teaching staff. With a few abstentions, Garfield teachers unanimously voted to support a boycott of the January-February cycle of MAP tests. “This was the crux: It was just immoral to rob the students of that [classroom] time,” Clarke said. “The feeling in the building was just simmering under the surface, waiting for something to do about it.”

Garfield teachers sent Banda’s office multiple letters, emails, and voicemails after their December vote, with no response, McBride said. So on Jan. 10, 2013, they staged their press conference.

Support for the boycott

The national ripples were immediate.

“Bravo to the teachers of Garfield High. We support you and thank you for your courageous stand,” wrote Jane Maisel, a leader of the anti-testing group Change the Stakes, in an email to Hagopian.

A February 6 National Day of Action in support of Garfield teachers inspired rallies across the country. In Chicago, for instance, parents at 37 schools gathered signatures on anti-testing petitions. Banda’s office was “bombarded” with emails, Hagopian said.

An International Day of Action on May Day brought support from teachers and parents in Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom, he said.

In the weeks and months following the Garfield declaration, teachers at six other Seattle schools joined the MAP boycott. When Banda’s office ordered school administrators to give the test anyway, local families added power to the revolt, with about 600 students opting out of the winter tests.

Banda convened a task force to study the issue, and in May he announced a partial reversal of district policy: MAP testing now is optional for the district’s high schools. Despite the early threat of 10-day unpaid suspensions, no teachers have been punished for refusing to administer the MAP.

“This wasn’t just a victory against one test,” Hagopian said. “This was a victory for a key concept: that teachers should be consulted about issues like testing and what kinds of learning are best for our students—before districts go to high-paid consultants and billionaires for solutions.” (In January 2014, Hagopian announced he was running for president of the Seattle teachers union to build on that victory.)

Meanwhile, Education Spring was busting out across the country, with rallies, marches, test boycotts, and teach-ins. The most dramatic: an estimated 10,000-plus educators and parents from all over New York converged at the state capitol in Albany for a June 8 “One Voice United” demonstration.

Hagopian has been sought out by schools and local unions across the country; he has traveled from Hawaii to Florida telling the Garfield story and helping other educators resist standardized tests.

More effective assessment

During his travels, Hagopian learned of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a coalition of 28 high schools across the state. Coalition schools track student progress with performance-based assessments. Rather than take standardized tests, students do in-depth research and papers; learn to think, problem-solve, and critique; and orally present their projects. He says this approach not only provides more effective student assessment, but also emphasizes critical-thinking skills over rote learning.

Last fall, two Garfield teachers and principal Ted Howard visited consortium schools at the Julia Richman Education Complex, in Manhattan, and returned inspired.
Successful students have a true joy for learning, Howard said, which the modern focus on testing has stripped from classrooms. Consortium schools support teaching as an “art form,” he said, rather than a robotic exercise to raise test scores.

“We’re dealing with human beings and human behavior, and sometimes that’s not quantifiable,” Howard said. “Students [at consortium schools] are saying, ‘Hey, I really want to be here.’”

In February he plans to send two more teachers to New York to visit another, larger consortium high school.

“I got into education for the long haul,” Howard said. “Hopefully, we can get together to change education, to make it better. It won’t change overnight, so we have to stick with it. We speak for students who don’t have a voice, so we have to hang in there.”
Next fall, Washington will be among many states launching the Common Core standards and tests. Opt-out activists across the nation predict that a second, even more vibrant Education Spring is nigh.

“It’s gonna to be huge,” said BAT’s Naison. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 100,000 [students opting out] in New York next spring.” He also predicts significant uprisings in California, Florida, Illinois, and perhaps Texas.

Now he’s planning an epic March on Washington—an upbeat three-day event culminating with a July 28 march to the U.S. Department of Education.

“It’s going to be a very festive,” he said, with flash mobs, plays, songs, and a band. “Imagine 10,000 teachers, parents and kids—some in costumes, some playing instruments, with huge banners—demanding that teacher and student creativity be unleashed.”

“It’s going to be the party of the year,” Naison said. “It’s to celebrate what teaching and learning can be, and to shame the people who are taking the fun and creativity out of it.”

______________________________________

This article was written for Education Uprising, the Spring 2014 issue of YES! Magazine.

Diane BrooksDiane Brooks is a journalist and communications consultant.  She was a newspaper reporter for many years in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now lives in Everett, Wash. priestdi.com.

Support Jesse Hagopian for Union President: Educators Deserve RESPECT

We need your help in the struggle to defend public education. To endorse or donate to the RESPECT union campaign for leadership of the Seattle Education Association, click on the links.

Also, spread the word by following us on facebooktwitter (@RespectSeattle), and our website.

—-

Dear Friends,

Electionshttp://socialequalityeducators.org/donate/ for leadership of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) are coming right up and ballots will be cast at the end of April. On behalf of Social Equality Educators (SEE) and the many brothers and sisters working with us on the RESPECT campaign toward the common goal of strengthening our union, we are writing to ask for your endorsement and to ask you to make a financial contribution to support our campaign. We have assembled a remarkable group of educators on the SEE “RESPECT” ticket –award-winners and National Board Certified Teachers, experienced educators and those newer to the profession – to run for union office. We have over a dozen candidates, including Jesse Hagopian for SEA president, Marian Wagner for SEA Vice President, and Dan Troccoli for SEA Treasurer.

Together, we are confident we can achieve the contract educators deserve, the schools our students deserve, and the city our families deserve.  Our record of supporting the MAP test boycott showed we could unite students, parents, and educators in a common struggle to defend–and transform–public education.

We have already been endorsed by Dr. John Carlos, 1968 Olympic medalist, medal stand protester, Gerald Hankerson, President of the King County/Seattle NAACP, Nick Licata, Seattle City Council Member, Dr. Wayne Au, Editor at Rethinking Schools and Professor at University of Washington Bothell, and Robert Wood, Professor President of the UW American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Bob George, National Director, Save Our Schools, Dave Zirin, sports editor The Nation Magazine, Dora Taylor, President of Parents Across America, Tim Harris, Founder and Director of Real Change newspaper, and many others!

JesseKickoff

Jesse Hagopian at the RESPECT campaign kickoff rally

The SEE Respect slate of candidates believes we need courageous union leaders who will listen to the members, stand up for their rights in the work place, and work hard to achieve the members’ vision for public education.

The Respect slate of candidates stands for:

  • A union that will fight for a strong contract. When we ask for less than what is required to do our jobs well, we cannot serve our students effectively, or be true to the passion that brings us into the classroom.
  • A union that will demand full funding of education. This will only happen if we insist lawmakers adhere to the law.
  • A union that will stand for fair and sustainable teacher evaluation. Evaluation should empower us to continually improve our professional practice and care for our students—it should not simply serve as a “gotcha” tool for administrators.
  • A union that protects our right to teach culturally relevant curriculum and works to replace disproportionate disciplinary procedures with restorative justice. Seattle’s students deserve a holistic education that fosters critical thinking and civic engagement.
  • We need a union that brings families and community members into the schools as partners and collaborators.
  • A union that empowers the union membership to be an active voice.
  • A union that keeps us updated with accurate information and invites us to take an active role in a truly member-driven association.
  • A union that will join the growing national movement to fight for fair and meaningful student assessments, including opportunities to pilot performance-based alternatives to high-stakes testing.

To endorse or donate to the SEE Respect union campaign visit, http://socialequalityeducators.org/donate/ and http://socialequalityeducators.org/endorse-the-campaign/ .

PUBLIC EDUCATION IS IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Teachers and school staff are feeling the insidious effects of what is known as the “corporate education reform agenda.”  It has been set by those occupying the highest ranks of power in our country and one of its primary financiers lives in our own backyard. With corporate education reform comes increased class size, privatization of public schools through expansion of charter initiatives, decreased access to wrap-around services, unfair and biased teacher evaluation methods, racist and disproportionate discipline measures, union busting, and the degradation educators’ contracts.  In Seattle, at the same time that our class sizes are increasing and resources are shrinking, we face pressure to meet standards set by unfair and biased measures of evaluation. Circumstances beyond our control dictate whether or not we may expect to keep our jobs for another year, keeping us in a constant state of anxiety. How does this benefit teachers and students? SEA members are fully aware that unless we want to continue down the path of losing more job protections, we have no choice but to transform our union into one that can turn the tide.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

The Social Equality Educators (SEE) seek to strengthen our union to become one that prioritizes the needs of our colleagues, students and families over accommodating the agenda of those who wish to profit from public education and deny us fully funded schools with rich curriculum.  In the struggle to “scrap the MAP” test, we on the Respect slate discovered for ourselves that building coalitions with parents, students, and community organizations is the key to successfully defending the integrity of our workplaces and quality of education for our students. We organized, strategized, built alliances, took direct action, and won the important victory of making the MAP test optional at the high school level.  We achieved solidarity among families, students, and community members, because ultimately the fight for education justice affects all of us. Our work in the schools can reach its fullest potential if we have a winning strategy for protecting and strengthening the soul of public education. This is the strategy will need if we are going to win the contract that educators deserve.

YOU DESERVE RESPECT

The SEE RESPECT slate and our allies are running for union leadership because we want to cultivate a member-driven union that respects teacher voice and dignity along with the voices and dignity of our students and families.  Let’s build a struggle make an education system that empowers educators to educate, unfettered by over-testing and unsustainable evaluation systems.

To achieve this vision we need your help: ENDORSE RESPECT,  DONATE TO THE CAMPAIGN, and pass along this post to others who want to build a stronger education union movement. 

Yours in struggle,

The RESPECT TICKET

Twitter Storm: Call for Congressional Hearings on Abuses of High-Stakes Testing

I recently had the honor of presenting at the Network for Public Education’s first national conference in Austin, Texas, which brought together many of the people who inspire me most in the struggle to defend public education. During Diane Ravitch’s keynote address, she made an appeal for lawmakers to thoroughly investigate the abuses of standardized testing in our nation’s schools. It’s time for the “Education Spring” uprising to connect the individual opt-outs, boycotts, and walkouts against standardized tests in our localities to this national demand for a public accounting of the damage being done by high-stakes testing.

The first step in making this demand for a congressional investigation on standardized testing is to join the Twitter Storm, Wednesday, March 19th, 2014, from 5-7pm PDST.

Please share this blog post far and wide to encourage every parent, student, and educator to join this movement.

Below is the press release from the NPE with details.

PRESS RELEASE

AUSTIN, TX The Network for Public Education (NPE) closed out its first National Conference here with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s K-12 public schools.

npe-congressIn a Closing Keynote address to some 500 attendees, education historian and NYU professor Diane Ravitch, an NPE founder and Board President, accused current education policies mandated by the federal government, such as President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top, of making high-stakes standardized testing “the purpose of education, rather than a measure of education.”

The call for Congressional hearings – addressed to Senators Lamar Alexander and Tom Harkin of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and Representatives John Kline and George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee – states that high-stakes testing in public schools has led to multiple unintended consequences that warrant federal scrutiny. NPE asks Congressional leaders to pursue eleven potential inquiries, including, “Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?” and “Are tests being given to children who are too young?”

“We have learned some valuable lessons about the unintended costs of test-driven reform over the past decade. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s policies do not reflect this,” stated NPE Executive Director Robin Hiller. “We need Congress to investigate and take steps to correct the systematic overuse of testing in our schools.”

“Our system is being rendered less intelligent by the belief that ‘rigor’ equates to ever more difficult tests,” warned NPE Treasurer Anthony Cody. “True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test. We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed. We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.”

About NPE:

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education, and endorse and rate candidates for office based on our principles and goals. More specifically, we will support candidates who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of its core functions to for-profit corporations, and we will support candidates who work for evidence-based reforms that will improve our schools and the education of our nation’s children.

Press Contact:
Anthony Cody
anthony_cody@hotmail.com
1(510) 917-9231.

EDUCATORS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH CHICAGO TEST REFUSERS

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In a public petition released today, more than fifty educators and researchers, including some of the most well-respected figures in the field of education, pledged support for the boycott of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) by teachers at two elementary schools in Chicago, Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary School and called on Chicago’s mayor and schools chief to rescind threats of punishment for those who participated in the action.

Among the signers of the statement are former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and activist and educator William Ayers.

Today, Monday March 10, the Chicago Teachers Union is calling for a Day of Action to support the boycotting teachers. The CTU is encouraging members and supporters to wear red and attend a rally in Chicago at 4pm. Supporters outside of Chicago can call the Board of Education at 773-553-1600 and say:

“I’d like to leave a message for all members of the Chicago Board of Education. I support families boycotting the ISAT and there should be no retaliation against teachers who stood up for their students on the ISAT.”

To add your name to the petition, send an email to educatorsolidarity@gmail.com.

*

PETITION TO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL & CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS CEO BARBARA BYRD-BENNETT:

CELEBRATE CHICAGO’S TEACHERS OF CONSCIENCE, DON’T PUNISH THEM!

Teachers at two public elementary schools in Chicago, Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary School, have refused to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). By taking this bold action at great personal risk, these teachers are standing up for authentic teaching, learning, and assessment. We believe that these teachers are heroes who are worthy of praise and thanks, not punishment and censure.

The teachers at these schools believe that boycotting this test is in the best interest of their students. Hundreds of parents and students agreed. At Drummond, 112 students out of 178 students refused to take the test. At Saucedo, roughly 450 of 1200 students refused also. For teachers who declined to administer the test, this was not a day off — they were able to conduct actual lessons with students who opted out. Threatening to punish teachers who prefer to teach rather than give standardized tests is not in the best interest of students.

The ISAT test is being phased out, and will not be given next year. The results from this test will not be used to improve teaching and learning, to determine grades or promotion in Chicago Public Schools. It’s only purpose is to satisfy the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. NCLB demands that schools raise test scores every year, pressure which has led to an abusive over-emphasis on standardized test preparation nationwide.

Like early participants in the Civil Rights Movement, the teachers at Saucedo and Drummond who have refused to administer the ISAT have taken an enormous risk for what they believe is right. And like those early Civil Rights protesters, they are facing intimidation and threats that they may be fired or lose their teaching licenses.

We, the undersigned, call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to stop all threats and punishments directed at the teachers of conscience at Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary.

Signed*:

Curtis Acosta
Founder
Acosta Latino Learning Partnership, Tucson

Mary Adams
School Board Member
Rochester, NY

Dohra Ahmad
Associate Professor of English
St. John’s University

Wayne Au
Associate Professor of Education
University of Washington, Bothell

William Ayers
Retired
University of Illinois

Ann Berlak
Retired
San Francisco State University

Kenneth Bernstein
Teacher
North County High School, Glen Burnie

Bill Bigelow
Curriculum Editor
Rethinking Schools

Elizabeth Bishop
Drop Knowledge Project

Stephen Brier
Professor
Ph.D. Program in Urban Education
The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Phyllis A. Bush
Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, Fort Wayne

Kristi Butkovich
Executive Director
Denver Alliance for Public Education

Duane Campbell
Professor of Education, Emeritus
California State University, Sacramento

Alex Caputo-Pearl
Teacher
Frida Kahlo High School, Los Angeles

Julie Cavanagh
Teacher
Public School 15, Brooklyn

Sumi Cho
Professor of Law
DePaul University College of Law

Noam Chomsky
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Linda Christensen
Rethinking Schools

Anthony Cody
Co-Founder
Network for Public Education

Rocío Cordova
Association of Raza Educators, San Diego chapter

Tammy Oberg De La Garza
Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy
College of Education
Roosevelt University, Chicago

Rosalie DeFino
Educator, Chicago

Bertis Downs
Board Member
Network for Public Education

John W. Duffy
Retired
Illinois Education Association

Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Educator
Estero, FL

Lisa Edstrom
Barnard Education Program
Barnard College, Columbia University

Stephanie Farmer
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Roosevelt University, Chicago

Guillermo Antonio Gomez
Association of Raza Educators

Judith Gouwens
Professor of Elementary Education
College of Education
Roosevelt University, Chicago

Ellen Gradman
Former elementary school teacher and art educator
Chicago

Helen Gym
Asian Americans United/Parents United for Public Education
Rethinking Schools

Jesse Hagopian
Teacher
Garfield High School, Seattle

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Marianne Handler
Highland Park, IL

Angela Hanson
Teacher, Minneapolis

Nini Hayes
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Julian Vasquez Heilig
Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning
University of Texas, Austin

Robin Hiller
Executive Director
Network for Public Education

Patricia Johnson
Admissions Counselor and Group Tour Coordinator
AFSCME LOCAL 1989
Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago

Brian Jones
PhD Program in Urban Education
The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Denisha Jones
Assistant Professor of Education
Howard University

Stan Karp
Rethinking Schools

Bill Kennedy
Urban Teacher Education Program
University of Chicago

Jeff Kipilman
Teacher
Portland Public Schools

Ari Klein
President
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union

Jonathan Kozol
Author

Connie Krosney
Professor (retired)
Burlington, Vermont

Mark Larson
National Louis University, Chicago

Rosemary Lee
Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education, US section

Karen GJ Lewis
National Board Certified Teacher
President
Chicago Teachers Union

Gerardo R. Lopez
Professor, Department of Political Science
Associate Director for Research, Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education
Loyola University, New Orleans

Tara Mack
CPS parent and Director
Education for Liberation Network

Barbara Madeloni
Educators for a Democratic Union

Eleni Makris
Associate Professor
Northeastern Illinois University

Morna McDermott
Associate Professor
Towson University

Elizabeth Meadows
Associate Professor of Elementary Education
College of Education
Roosevelt University

Marlene Meisels
Associate Professor
Concordia University, Chicago

Deborah Menkart
Executive Director
Teaching for Change

Nicholas M. Michelli
Presidential Professor
Ph.D. Program in Urban Education
The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Mark B. Miller
School Board Director
Centennial School District
Pennsylvania School Boards Association

Megan Moskop
Special Education Teacher
New York City Department of Education

Mark Nagasawa
CPS Parent and Assistant Professor
Erikson Institute, Graduate School of Child Development

Hyung Nam
Teachers, Portland Public Schools
NW Teaching for Social Justice Conference Steering Committee

Monty Neill
FairTest

Isabel Nuñez
Associate Professor
Concordia University Chicago

Dani O’Brien
College of Education
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

John Oliver Perry
Seattle

Bob Peterson
President
Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

Anthony Picciano
Executive Officer
PhD Program in Urban Education
City University of New York – Graduate Center

Bree Picower
New York Collective of Radical Educators

Amira Proweller
Associate Professor
DePaul University, College of Education

Diane Ravitch
Research Professor of Education
New York University

Mary Cathryn D. Ricker
National Board Certified Teacher
President
Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, Local 28

Karyn Sandlos
Assistant Professor of Art Education
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Mara Sapon-Shevin
Professor of Inclusive Education
Syracuse University

Nancy Schniedewind
Professor
State University of New York, New Paltz

Christine Sleeter
Professor Emerita
California State University, Monterey Bay
and Immediate Past-President
National Association for Multicultural Education

Tim Slekar
Dean
School of Education
Edgewood College, Madison

Philip Small
Brooklyn, NY

Deb Stahl
Rockville, MD

Simeon Stumme
Associate Professor
Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice
Concordia University, Chicago

Richard Sugerman
Richmond, CA

Daiyu Suzuki
Doctoral Student
Teachers College, Columbia University

Peter M. Taubman
Professor
Brooklyn College

Dora Taylor
President
Parents Across America

Angela Valenzuela
Professor
University of Texas, Austin

Bob Valiant
Valiant, ETC

Emma Lee Weibel
Lake Oswego, OR

Lois Weiner
Professor
New Jersey City University

Randi Weingarten
President
American Federation of Teachers

Joel Westheimer
University Research Chair and Professor
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Education, Ontario

Barbara Winslow
School of Education
Brooklyn College

Colleen Doherty Wood
Founder
50th No More, Florida

Ken Zarifis
President
Education Austin, Local #2048

Diana Zavala
Change The Stakes

Rebecca Zorach
Professor
University of Chicago

*organizations are listed for identification purposes only

[Updated 3/18/2014 @ 10:16am EST]

The Test Boycott Is On!

The testing boycott is official!
Today, teachers at Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy and Thomas Drummond Elementary School are refusing to distribute the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT), even though Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has said they could lose their state certification if they boycott the test.
Why would dedicated teachers–from Seattle to Chicago–add the stress of disciplinary action against them to an already stressful job and refuse to distribute bubble tests to kids?  I asked that question to one of the leaders of the Saucedo boycott, Sarah Chambers.  She told me,
“Saucedo staff took a stand for their students and voted unanimously to teach instead of administering the Illinois state achievement test (ISAT).  After hearing the voices of over 350 parents who turned in their opt-out forms for their children, the Saucedo staff joined their parents in pushing back against the unjust regime of over-testing.  Students also joined the fight by passing a unanimous motion that encouraged all students to opt-out of the ISAT exam.  We are sick and tired of Chicago Public Schools seeing our students as numbers and not human beings.  Standardized assessments tell us more about the students’ economic background than their actual academic performance. Parents, students, and teachers are in this fight together to take back our public schools from the profiteers who are making millions from these tests and test-prep materials.  Saucedo is taking this step of civil disobedience because the inhuman amount of over-testing has spiraled out of control and we are advocating for our students’ education.  This is one step towards reclaiming our public schools and our humanity.”
The corporate education reformers had better listen to Ms. Chambers and act quickly to end the high-stakes standardized testing tyranny–because educators around the nation are done having a failed business model imposed on their schools that is turning teachers into technicians tasked with “adding value” to students as if they were products on an assembly line.
Garfield High School staff gather in solidarity with Saucedo Elementary's boycott of the ISAT.

Garfield High School staff gather in solidarity with Saucedo Elementary’s boycott of the ISAT

I wish you could have been at Garfield High School last week when I announced to our staff that a school in Chicago had begun a testing boycott.  A cheer went up at our staff meeting as we all realized we are now truly part of a conscientious objectors movement that is refusing to be silenced about education policy and the work we do every day.
This movement has just began.  You can join it by sending a picture/statement of support to the teachers (COREteachers@gmail.com) or signing their petition.  Or better yet by participating in an action against standardized testing yourself.  The Testing Resistance and Reform Spring website has gathered many of the most important groups around the country in the fight to defend public education and is helping to coordinate these actions.
Teachers now know we are on the right side of history in the struggle to transform our classrooms from test-prep factories into centers of critical thinking.  When you know you are on the right side of history, you don’t back down.

Chicago teachers at Saucedo Elementary vote unanimously to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test: We scrapped the MAP! You can Ice the ISAT!

Boycottvote_photo

Ballots from the unanimous vote of teachers at Saucedo to boycott the ISAT

A beautiful thing happened today.  Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).

Since teachers at Garfield High School—and then several other schools in Seattle—voted to boycott the MAP test last year, there has been an explosion of activism against high-stakes, standardized tests. And yet outside of Seattle, there had not yet been another school where the entire staff collectively raised their voice and boycotted a test—that is until now.

The brave teachers at Saucedo Elementary are taking up the struggle and using the power of collective action to refuse to waste students’ valuable class time with another destructive test.  As the teachers have pointed out, getting rid of the ISAT would leave the students with still a plethora of standardized tests, including the MAP tests, new Interim Benchmark Tests, REACH Performance Tasks, ACCESS tests, NAEP tests, pilot Common Core tests and more. Already, hundreds of parents at Saucedo have pledged to opt their child out of the ISAT.

With the Parents and teachers united in this struggle, Saucedo is now on the front lines in the battle for authentic assessment.  They will need our support.  Please take a minuet and sign the petition in the defense of the Saucedo educators—then send it on to everyone you know who believes that education should be about critical thinking, imagination, joy, and collaboration—not about rote memorization and eliminating wrong answer choices.

From my experience in helping to organize the MAP boycott in Seattle, here is the advice I have for the Saucedo teachers:

Corporate education reformers will use their wealth to publicize the idea that you teachers are selfish and your refusal to give the test will damage students.  They will complain that teachers don’t want to be held accountable and that high-stakes standardized is the key to improving education. Don’t listen to them.  They are pushing these tests because it is a multibillion dollar industry and because reducing the intellectual process of teaching and learning to a single score is the centerpiece of their plan to label the public schools as failing and then push their privatizing agenda. Instead, listen to the many thousands of parents, students, and teachers around the nation that are supporting you in this struggle to assert that our children and educators are more than a test score.

The corporate education reformers, and the politicians they have bought, will issue threats of discipline for your audacity in refusing to hand the schools over to testing companies.  They threatened us in Seattle when we refused to give the MAP test, but we showed that the power of solidarity can overcome the powerful.  Not a single teacher was disciplined and the MAP test was made optional through our struggle.

We scrapped the MAP.  You can Ice the ISAT!

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