Monthly Archives: December, 2013

The Nation magazine names Seattle Eduction Association “Most Valuable Union” and credits Social Equality Educators for support of MAP test boycott

The Nation magazine released its “Progressive Honor Roll of 2013” where it names “heroes both for their accomplishments of the past year and their determination to do even more in 2014”–and they made some great picks! 2013 Progressive Honor Roll

Most valuable book went to Diane Ravitich for here masterpiece of truth-telling, Reign of Error. “Most Valuable Musical Partnership” went to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello for their relentless rocking for justice–including dedicating the song “American Skin (41 Shots)” to  Trayvon Martin at their live shows.  The Stranger received a well deserved “Most Valuable Newspaper” award for their support of Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative candidate who defeated a corporate Democrat to win a seat on the Seattle City Council!

I am proud to say that The Nation picked the Seattle Education Association as “Most Valuable Union”, citing the importance of the MAP test boycott!  As well, the organization I helped found, the Social Equality Educators (SEE), received recognition for the critical role we played in helping to spread the MAP test boycott to schools around Seattle, which ultimately helped ignite a national movement in opposition to high-stakes standardized testing. And of course, it was the courageous actions of the teachers at Garfield High School–especially the math, reading, and language arts teachers–who launched the whole effort.

This great struggle of the MAP test boycott that erupted in January of 2013 has forever changed my life and I want to personally thank the team of close collaborators who helped organize the day-to-day efforts of the boycott.  Mallory Clarke, Jessica Griffin, Kit McCormick, Kris McBride: your courage has changed the world.

You can sign up to follow the Social Equality Educators on Facebook at:

And you can follow developments in the MAP test boycott at: or

Read those websites, then start your own revolution.

ColorLines magazine: MAP test boycott among “10 Racial Justice Wins for 2013”!

Video: 10 Racial Justice Wins For 2013

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!


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