Monthly Archives: October, 2013

Big Ideas VS Big Money: Support Sue Peters for School Board!

SuePetersI 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.

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Video: “Reframing the Purpose of Education” and Testing at NBC’s Nationally Broadcast “Education Nation” Program

EdNation_HagopianPublic 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. EdNation_Panel_Hagopian

Coverage of those in support of authentic assessment over standardized testing at “Education Nation” include:

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.

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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 “EducationEdNation 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!

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