Monthly Archives: April, 2014

Video: What Does RESPECT Mean?–Vote today for a new union leadership to defend public education

Voting has begun!

I am running for president of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) with a dozen other educators on the RESPECT ticket.  We want to transform our union to become a powerful force to defend public education from corporate education reformers. Many of us were leaders in the MAP test boycott and we all believe that a union that builds partnerships with parents and community organizations can achieve the contract educators deserve, the schools our children deserve, and the city our families deserve. If you believe in our vision, please donate to support our campaign here. In this video we explain our vision for what RESPECT means and how to achieve it:

YouDeserveRespect

 

Please share this video widely and ask any educator you know in Seattle to consider voting for our slate of candidates.  Seattle educators can cast–or change–their vote unit voting closes on Wednesday, May 7th. Information on the candidates and instructions for SEA members on how to vote are here.

It is time to Elect RESPECT!

Arne Duncan has labeled my school—and every school in Washington State—a failure. Cue the revolt.

The ultimate absurdity of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has been visited upon my home state of Washington.

One of the many outlandish propositions of  NCLB was that 100 percent of students at all schools in the United States would be fully proficient in reading and math, as registered by student test scores, by 2014—all without adding the resources needed to support our children.   Because no state has been able to achieve 100 percent proficiency, nearly all of the states have already received a federal waiver from NCLB—on the condition that they implement policies that reduce teaching and learning to a test score.

Now, because our State Legislators did not move to mandate that standardized test scores be attached to teacher evaluations, Washington has become the first state in the country to lose its waiver from the many requirements of the No Child Left Behind act. The U.S. Department of Education posted a letter about the status of Washington’s waiver on Thursday April 24th. The loss of this waiver means that every parent in the state should expect a letter informing them that their child attends a failing school. It also means that  school districts will lose control of how they spend a portion of the federal funding they receive—some $40 million statewide. As well, any number of schools could be forced into state takeover and made to replace most of the staff.

And so the absolute farce of federal education reform policy marches on, again without input from educators or parents, in an effort to destabilize the public schools, label them as failing, and then open up space for privatized charter schools.

This time they have gone too far.

My school is not a failure. Garfield High School, where I teach, is home to one of the best jazz bands in the country. I dare you not to shake your booty when you hear the Garfield drumline, the premiere percussionists of the Northwest. If Arne Duncan had been there to see Garfield’s drama department’s production of West Side Story this year, he would have been too busy humming “Maria” to withdraw the waiver.  And I really wish Duncan could have been in my classroom to see my students research and reenact the Montgomery Bus Boycott–during the time of the schools’ MAP test boycott last year–to see how learning in the service of solving societal problems is coming alive at Garfield.

More than this, none of our schools are failures. The failure is on the part of politicians and their corporate sponsors who have slashed education budgets across the country, and then overused test scores to blame educators for the nation’s problems.

Labeling us all as failures will only create solidarity among all the teachers, parents, and students across the state in a struggle to stop Arne Duncan’s mad testing machine. We at Garfield High School learned the power solidarity in our victorious MAP test boycott last year. If you think the struggle to “scrap the MAP” was impressive, imagine the size and scope of a struggle that unites every school in the state to honor our hardworking educators and students, rather than testing and punishing.

I am running for the president of the Seattle Education Association in part to help organize our educators in this struggle (you can donate and support my campaign here). Now is the time to build the largest grassroots civil rights movement to defend our schools that our state has ever seen. Who will join me?

 

 

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!

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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.”

 

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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]

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