Tag Archives: Social Equality Educators

#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool FAQ: Answering why hundreds of Seattle educators are wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts to school

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#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool press conference.  Teachers pictured (from left to right) Rogelio Rigor, Donte Felder, Sarah Arvey, and Jesse Hagopian. (Photo by Benice Buhain)

On October 19th, 2016 hundreds of Seattle teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, nurses, instructional assistants, librarians, and other educators will be wearing Black Lives Matter shirts to school in an unprecedented action, “Black Lives Matter At School.”  Already, some 2,000 shirts have been ordered and many of these educators will also be teaching lessons that day about institutional racism.  Educators at Washington Middle School and other educators from the Social Equality Educators have compiled this list of answers to frequently asked questions about this unprecedented action.

 

October 19th—#BlackLivesMatterAtSchool FAQ

Q: How did the October 19th Black Lives Matter At School event get organized?

A: In mid-September, two Seattle elementary schools decided to have African-American men from their communities welcome students to school with greetings and high-fives. Teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts. One school, John Muir, received a bomb threat from someone opposing the event. Although consideration was given to canceling due to safety concerns, the event was held anyway without any problems. In an act of solidarity, a few days later the Seattle Education Association (SEA) Representative Assembly passed a resolution unanimously supporting the schools and their actions, and encouraging all schools to participate in a day of solidarity on Wednesday, October 19:

Whereas the SEA promotes equity and supports anti-racist work in our schools; and,
Whereas we want to act in solidarity with our members and the community at John Muir who received threats based on their decision to wear Black Lives Matter t- shirts as part of an event with “Black Men United to Change the Narrative”; and,

Whereas the SEA and SPS promote Race and Equity teams to address institutionalized racism in our schools and offer a space for dialogue among school staff; and,

Therefore be it resolved that the SEA Representative Assembly endorse and participate in an action wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts on Wednesday, October 19,2016 with the intent of showing solidarity, promoting anti-racist practices in our schools, and creating dialogue in our schools and communities.

On October 8, the Seattle Public Schools noted the event on its website, and stated:

During our #CloseTheGaps kick-off week, Seattle Education Association is promoting October 19 as a day of solidarity to bring focus to racial equity and affirming the lives of our students – specifically our students of color.

In support of this focus, members are choosing to wear Black Lives Matter t- shirts, stickers or other symbols of their commitment to students in a coordinated effort. SEA is leading this effort and working to promote transformational conversations with staff, families and students on this issue.

We invite you to join us in our commitment to eliminate opportunity gaps and accelerate learning for each and every student.

Q: Who has endorsed this Black Lives Matter At School event?

A: This event been endorsed by the Seattle Education Association, Seattle PTSA Council board, The Seattle NAACP, Diane Ravitch (former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education), Dr. Wayne Au (editor at Rethinking Schools and professor at UW Bothell) Carol Burris (Executive Director of the Network for Public Education), and a growing list of academics, organizers and activists from around the country.

Q: Why are school teachers and staff participating?

A: When people know that something is wrong, they often try to change it through social movements. Black Lives Matter is a social movement for racial justice in 21st century United States. Every individual chooses how they show their support of the movement. Some teachers want to be publicly supportive, others would rather be private.

Q: Isn’t this a political action and do political actions belong at school? blmshirt_1-jpg

A: This is a consciousness-raising event. School is part of society, students and staff are part of society, and so what is happening within our society deserves and demands our attention. This is a “teachable moment” for the Seattle Public School community.

Q: How will this event help promote racial equity at our school?

A: Racial equity will never be a reality unless people are willing to talk about it. This event provides an opportunity for conversations that can help our school move toward racial justice.

Q: How can I show my support?

A: Students and families are welcome to participate at school on racial equity activities in these ways:

1) Wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt or sticker on Oct. 19th. Contact your school to find out what is happening there on the 19th.

2) Parents and educators, here is list of age appropriate resources you can use to teach about racial justice: http://socialequalityeducators.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/TeachingRacialJustice.pdf

3) Attend the Black Lives Matter At School rally/forum/show organized by Social Equality Educators on the evening of Oct. 19 at Washington Hall at 6:00 p.m.to 8:00 p.m.

Q: Why call attention to Black Lives when all lives matter and when there are other groups treated unjustly in our schools and country?

A: Over 50% of the Seattle Public Schools’ student population are non-white students. The call of All Lives Matter is often used to brush aside the concerns which led to the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement over the last two years. In some cases, it reflects the universal consciousness and awareness that many members of the younger generations have come to embrace. However, until the lives of people of color are treated with equal value by the society, the call for all lives to matter rings hollow. By all measures, African-Americans, Native Americans and Latinos, are treated unequally by our society fifty years after the passage of major civil rights laws. This inequality can be found in incidences of police brutality and killings, imprisonment rates, repeated studies of job and housing bias, health care, and access to quality education resulting in the school to prison pipeline. Black students in the Seattle Public Schools are suspended at four times the rate of their white peers. Until we are treated equally, we must all raise our voices or be complicit in the racism.

Q: Isn’t the Black Lives Matter Movement only about police killings?

A: No. The origin of the the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” is in the killing of Trayvon Martin by a vigilante and the ensuing national protests that followed showed the potential a new social movement. Several years later, unarmed African American Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in the streets of Ferguson, MO. Then videotaped killing of Eric Garner in New York City helped ignite this movement nationally. Repeated cases preceded these, and have followed
them. Protest actions have been led by BLM activists in hundreds of U.S. cities. But this movement is not only focused on police accountability. This summer, a platform was written under the Movement for Black Lives, advocating economic justice, political empowerment, community control of policing, reparations to the Black community, and for education justice. The platform writers represented over 50 organizations. BLM activists have also joined with the thousands of Native people and their supporters in their stand for the environment at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Q: Why do some educators’ t-shirts include the symbol of a raised fist? blmshirt_2-jpg

A: The raised fist has been used by organizers to symbolize solidarity in struggles for racial justice, social justice, labor rights, and human rights for a very long time. It has been used to support such diverse struggles as organizing for workers’ rights in 18th century France, organizing for labor rights internationally in the early 20th century, organizing against fascism during the Spanish Civil War, and – most relevantly – organizing for civil rights and racial equity in the United States since the 1960s. By wearing the raised fist, Seattle educators are demonstrating their solidarity with struggles for racial equity in Seattle schools and U.S. society as a whole. We are also acknowledging the ongoing legacy of struggles led by communities of color, in particular Black Lives Matter and other movements for racial justice in the United States.

Q: What does the hashtag #sayhername mean?

A: This hashtag was called for in May 2015 to call attention to the Black women and girls who have been killed by the police. This includes the case of Sandra Bland, an Illinois woman who was arrested over a traffic stop in Texas, and died in police custody, hanging in her cell. Black women are outnumbered by white women 5:1 in the United States, yet are killed by police in nearly the same numbers. The statement challenges us to recognize the intersectional nature of oppressive systems including racism and patriarchy and to value and make visible the lives and struggles of black girls and women.

 

The Seattle Educators’ Strike for Social Justice: Groundbreaking victories and so much more to fight for

The Seattle Educators’ Strike for Social JusticeIMG_3520

On Sunday evening, thousands of Seattle Education Association members gathered in a general membership meeting and voted to approve a new contract with the Seattle Public Schools. This vote officially ended the strike by Seattle educators, which began on September 10, 2015, and interrupted the first five days of school.

This new contract contains many hard fought wins for social justice that the school district said it would never grant. These groundbreaking victories are against the abuses of high-stakes standardized testing, for more recess, and for race and equity teams in the schools are a dramatic departure from our previous  broken model of collective bargaining and hold the potential to transform educator unionism in the nation. Yet the contract also contained some needless concessions to corporate style reforms—including succumbing to the district’s disrespectful pay raise offer, raising caseloads for some special education teachers, extending the school day and reducing teacher planning time—that could have been avoided if the union had kept the picket lines up for a few days longer and organized mass mobilizations.

But the most important outcome of this contract negotiation won’t be found in the fine print of the agreement. The true triumph of this contract battle was the achievement of solidarity—between teachers, office professionals, nurses, school librarians, instructional assistants, parents, and community organizations—in the struggle for the public schools.

Thousands of parents joined in solidarity with the teachers, including the celebrated “Soup for Teachers” group that formed to bring sustenance and solidarity to picket lines at every school in the district. The Coalition for the Schools Seattle Deserves united community organizations and joined the great Kimya Dawson to host a benefit concert to raise funds for the striking teachers.  The Seattle City Council, led by councilmember Kshama Sawant, passed a unanimous resolution in support of the strike. Marching band students used their pep-band anthems to root on striking educators, and local businesses donated to the picket lines.  Even the mainstream media regularly reported that parents were in support of the strike and that the educators were winning. There can be no doubt that this strike was overwhelmingly supported by the people in the Seattle area–except, perhaps, for the regions’ wealthiest resident, Bill Gates, who has invested his fortune in schemes to privatize education and reduce our schools to test prep centers.

So many of the union’s social justice demands were advanced in the current strike and negotiations–creating a compelling model for educators around the country who believe in social justice unionism.

IMG_3560We won an end to the use of standardized tests scores being used in teacher evaluations, the so-called “student growth rating”—a huge blow to the testocracy in Seattle and across the country. This victory clearly comes out of the years long struggle of educators, students, and parents in Seattle who have taken bold action to oppose these tests. In 2013, the teachers at Garfield voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Measures of Academic Progress test and the boycott spread to some six other schools. Last year in Seattle, every single 11th grader at both Nathan Hale and Center school opted out of the SBAC common core test—joining some 60,000 other opt out across the state.

Our victory for a guaranteed minimum of 30 minutes recess in every elementary school is perhaps the first of its kind in the country. A story from a local NPR station in the spring of 2014 exposed the vanishing recess time in the Seattle Public Schools and showed how schools that served low-income students and students of color were particularly recess deficient. All last year I worked with a city-wide organization called “Lunch and Recess Matter,” that organized, petitioned, and rallied for the right to eat and play. This is a concrete victory for a research driven reform that has been shown to be vital for the social and emotional development of children.

We also won enforceable caseload caps for our Educational Support Associates (ESAs), such as school psychologists and speech language pathologists—a victory for vital services to support some of our most vulnerable students.

One of the most important gains for public education in this contract was the creation of race and equity teams. The Seattle Education Association advocated for every one of the Seattle Public Schools to have such a team to tackle issues of institutional racism–and in so doing won the support of many Black Lives Matter activists, including Seattle NAACP members, who issued a statement supporting the strike. The Seattle school district originally said they would only agree to having these teams in six schools. However, the power of the strike pushed the district to agree to allow thirty schools to have these anti-racist committees. Given that the Seattle schools have been found to suspend African American students at four times the rate of white students for the same infractions, it is clear that every school in the city needs to organize actively against inequality and racism.

With this visionary set of demands and the overwhelming support of the parents, students, community, and even city officials, it is truly disappointing that the union ended the strike before we achieved all we could at the bargaining table. Seattle has the fastest rising cost of rent and is among the top ten in highest cost of living in the nation. Educators have not had a cost of living increase in six years, and are increasingly unable to live in the city where we teach. It was a mistake to agree to 3% raise the first year, a 2% raise the second, and a 4.5 % raise the third, which won’t do much to even off set our rising cost of healthcare. With this contract, nurses in the Seattle Public schools will still have to split their time between several schools and can’t possibly provide the care that our students deserve. We achieved lower student to teacher ratios in some preschool and Distinct special education programs, but increased the special education “Access” programs caseload by 30%, going from 10:1:3 to 13:1:3 (student:teacher:instructional assistant). With the current ratios the Access students are able to participate in the general education curriculum and setting with support, however the new ratios put that inclusion model in jeopardy and will overwhelm Access case managers. We also submitted to the district’s demand to lengthen the school day by 20 minutes, which will reduce teacher planning time. There is no definitive evidence that a longer day produces better student outcomes, but we do know it will increase the burden on educators.

IMG_3513The fact that the union never organized a mass rally to bring the maximum pressure on the district was really disappointing. I know that if the union had organized a demonstration with all of our 5,000 members, many thousands of parents would have joined us and the pressure would have been enough to get us big gains on all the major issues we were fighting for. This reality reveals that the key to building the power we need to achieve the schools our children deserve will be in combining social justice demands with a social movement unionism approach that seeks the full mobilization of the membership and the community in pursuit of those demands.

All that said, I also know our strike has already gone a long way in transforming our union, city politics, and the labor movement for the better. So many educators, parents, students, and community members, in Seattle and around the nation, understand the issues that we face in education so much better as a result of this struggle. With so many more parents made aware of the dangers of over-testing by this strike, the opt out movement in Seattle will be truly massive this spring. The issue of disproportionate discipline as a component of the school-to-prison-pipeline has now been exposed in our city and I believe this will help embolden the Black Lives Matter movement in the coming months. So many in our city have been made aware of the need to fully fund our schools at the state level and I believe teachers, parents, and students will collaborate more than ever in challenging the state legislature to live up to its constitutional duty to amply provide the resources needed to run our schools.

As the Social Equality Educators—a rank and file organization of educators in Seattle—recently wrote, “The sleeping giant of our union has awoken from its slumber and begun to stretch its muscles. SEA members showed a tremendous amount of creativity and courage on the picket lines.” When our union fully commits to using this newfound strength, the corporate reform bullies will be once and for all chased out of the schoolyard.

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Jesse Hagopian teaches history and is the adviser to the Black Student Union at Garfield High School–the site of the historic boycott of the MAP test in 2013–and is an associate editor for the acclaimed Rethinking Schools magazine.  Jesse is the editor of More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing.

On My Son’s First Day of Kindergarten: OurSchoolsAreNotFailing.org organizes communities to defend their schools from NCLB

Today is the first day of school in Seattle. I have never been more excited and nervous for the first day because, not only do I start teaching, but my 5-year-old starts kindergarten! My son is so thrilled for his first day of school and our family feels so fortunate to have such a wonderful public school to send him to.

Unfortunately, the irreparably flawed No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has cast a shadow on what should be a joyous start to the year. As explained below, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan revoked the NCLB waiver for Washington state because our legislature would not tie teacher evaluations to test scores. Revoking the NCLB waiver then labeled nearly every school in the state a failure and mandated that districts notify parents that their child attends a failing school.

My son’s school is not a failure. The school where I teach is not a failure. It is the test-and-punish policy of NCLB that is failing.

Thankfully, a new initiative from parents, students, educators, and community members has formed to stand up to Arne Duncan’s bullying of our schools called OurSchoolsAreNotFailing.org. Be sure to sign the petition in support Washington state’s schools, share your story on the website about the great work that occurs in your school, and read the following statement from the OurSchoolsAreNotFailing.org website:

Our Schools Are Not Failing: NCLB is Failing Us

This year, most school districts across Washington state were forced by Secretary Arne Duncan’s selective enforcement of the No Child Left Behind Act to send letters to all parents that labeled our schools as failures.  We are parents, teachers, students and community members who reject this label that has been placed on our schools.

We know that our schools are not failures.  In fact, our schools’ accomplishments have been remarkable, especially given the deeply flawed policy imposed on them by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  While there are certainly changes needed for our schools—many due to the legacy of racism, class inequality, and lack of equitable funding for our schools—we believe that those changes should be directed by communities that make up local school districts, not from top-down mandates. This website will share stories and testimonials about the great things that are happening in our schools that should be supported and connect our communities so that we can organize opposition to Arne Duncan’s policies and No Child Left Behind.

According to NCLB, our schools should have had 100% of students test at proficient levels in reading and math by 2014.  No county, no state, and no school district has ever achieved 100% proficiency on standardized tests and, in fact, the way the tests are designed make it statistically impossible to achieve that goal. Washington, like many other states, originally had a waiver in place that would have exempted it from this absurd NCLB mandate.  However, when the state legislature refused to pass bills tying teacher evaluations to test scores (following overwhelming evidence that this would not improve teaching or learning), Arne Duncan chose to punish Washington state by revoking the waiver.  With the waiver gone, nearly all of Washington’s schools have been labeled failures, we may lose control of millions of dollars in federal money, and some schools will be at risk of state takeovers and mass layoffs of teachers.

This kind of political game-playing has no place in our schools.  Our schools and teachers should not be labeled as failures simply because we have rejected extremely flawed education policies.  In August 2014, 28 school superintendents from around the state authored a letter criticizing No Child Left Behind and declaring that their schools’ successes are not reflected in these ratings. We agree.  It’s time for the voices of parents, teachers and students to be heard and respected.

If you have a story to share about why your school is not a failure, tell us here.

Also, sign our petition to reinstate the NCLB waiver for Washington state.

RESPECT is on the Rise: I lost my bid for SEA union president by 45 votes, but the Social Equality Educators have never been stronger!

Thanks to everyone for your support for the Social Equality Educator’s (SEE) RESPECT campaign in the recent Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election!  Our campaign generated more excitement than ever before–both inside the union and among social justice and education thought leaders who supported my run for president of the union. In the end, I came up just 45 votes short of becoming the next president of the SEA, in the biggest voter turnout in our union’s history. Given that no one I have spoken to can remember an incumbent being unseated in SEA history, and that I received more votes than were cast in the entire last election, it is clear that there is a new upsurge occurring in our union. I gave this interview to KUOW, Seattle’s local NPR affiliate the day after the election summing up the results and laying out SEE’s vision for schools.

While it’s tough to lose by such a close margin, I am thrilled by the many accomplishments of this campaign.

SEE RESPECT candidates swept the high school Executive Board positions in the SEA, split the middle school seats, and won 6 seats overall! Dan Troccoli, the SEE candidate for treasurer, is in a special runoff election, the outcome of which we find out on June 4th. (Please support our efforts by donating to Dan’s campaign!).

Yet our campaign for RESPECT accomplished much more than just getting candidates elected.

SEE set out with a goal of getting over 50% of the members to participate in the election–and we surpassed our goal, with over 53% of members voting! We said from the beginning that the most important element of a strong union is an active membership, regardless of who is running the union.  The SEA is becoming more active than ever and SEE is proud to have helped sparked discussions and debates that have greatly aided in members’ taking a greater interest in how to best organize our union.  While there certainly have been some initiatives that the current SEA leadership have undertaken that have helped engage members (such as one-on-on listening sessions with members), there is no doubt that SEE is playing a vital role in activating the rank-and-file of the union around the key eduction issues of the day such as standardized testing, racial justice and the opportunity gap, and teacher evaluations.

In building after building across Seattle, candidates from the SEE’s RESPECT slate explained our vision to hundreds of SEA members: The contract educators deserve, the schools our children deserve, and the city our families deserve.

We said that the contract we deserve would set caseload caps for our counselors and other Education Support Associates (ESAs)—something the district has repeatedly promised would happen at some future date and something our union has continually backed down on. We said that the contract we deserve would have fair and sustainable teacher evaluations that were not dependent on unreliable, curriculum-narrowing standardized tests. Unfortunately, in contract negotiations SEA allowed Seattle to became the only city in the entire state to allow two measures of student growth in educators’ evaluations, including the use of state standardized tests scores.

The RESPECT campaign argued that the schools our children deserve would replace zero tolerance disciplinary procedures, which have resulted in African American students being suspended at five times the rate of their white peers, with restorative justice models designed to help students solve their problems collectively. We asserted that the schools students deserve would provide a holistic education that supports educators in promoting a multicultural education that is explicitly anti-racist, challenges gender bias, and undermines homophobia.  And we said that our union has partner with parents to make a public campaign during contract negotiations around lowering class size to achieve the individual attention our students deserve.

We were also able to make an argument during this election for the role our schools play in the overall health of our city, and lay out a strategy for our union to play a more proactive role in the issues—such as a $15 minimum wage, affordable transportation, and affordable housing—that impact the families we serve.

Most importantly, in this election the Social Equality Educators helped to popularize a program which asserted that our union is strongest when we partner with parents and community organizations in a common struggle to defend public education from corporate education reformers. This idea was put into practice during last year’s boycott of the MAP test, when we built a broad-based coalition that included the Garfield PTSA, the Seattle/King County NAACP, Parents Across America, the Garfield Student Body Government, hundreds of educators, and many others in the community. The overwhelmingly positive response we received from teachers around the district to this strategy of coalition building shows the great potential for joining public education stakeholders in a common struggle.

The Social Equality Educators have only just begun in our quest for social movement unionism to achieve social justice inside and outside the classroom.

Front Page Seattle Times Article on SEA election: “Politics plays role in teachers union vote for president”

The Seattle Times ran an important front page article today on the current election in the Seattle Education Association (SEA), “Politics plays role in teachers union vote for president”. I am running for President of SEA on the RESPECT ticket, a slate of social justice educators.  YouDeserveRespect

The main criticism of our campaign cited in the article is that we have too many endorsements from outside the union–which only highlights how much support we have in the community and among social justice advocates. It should also be noted that we have scores of endorsements from leading educators in schools across Seattle. The most important part of the article is the end where the difference between our two campaigns is driven home when it is revealed that the incumbent leadership is endorsed by the pro-charter school/pro-standardized testing, Gates Foundation-backed reformer organization, Teachers United.  Of course, Teachers United has a right to express their ideas in a fair and open debate.  However, if the vast majority of the union membership believes that corporate reform policies of privatizing education and reducing teaching and learning to a test scores is harmful to public education–as we have expressed in numerous votes in the SEA–then we need a union that more rigorously opposes these harmful policies.

I would have liked to see more information in the article about our entire slate of candidates on the RESPECT ticket–including the great Marian Wagner, running for Vice President, and Dan Troccoli, running for Treasurer.  I would have also liked to have seen a more substantive discussion of the political points that are being debated in this election. Most notably absent from the article was our criticism of the contract that SEA negotiated with the District that made far too many concessions for educators–such as not getting caseload caps for our counselors and allowing Seattle to become the only city in Washington state to allow two measures of “student growth” (including state test scores) in teacher evaluations.  Finally, I would have liked to have seen some of the points of the SEE RESPECT  platform highlighted, such as our dedication to combating institutional racism by advocating for a restorative justice approach to discipline replacing zero tolerance polices that have resulted in dramatically disproportion discipline used to punishing African American students.

Still, the article raises the important issues of school closures and the over use of standardized testing–and pointed out that these are movements I have been a part of for many years.  Because these are issues that educators in Seattle care deeply about, this article should help to increase voter turnout in the election–a prerequisite to a an engaged and activated membership, one of the primary objectives of ours in the campaign.

Those of us on the SEE RESPECT ticket in the election know that our union needs to become more powerful in its defense  of public education.

You can support our efforts to revive social justice unionism to defend public education by:

1) Sharing our campaign with every educator you know–on Facebook, Twitter, email, and beyond.

3) Remind a Seattle educator to vote before Wednesday, May 7th.

Thanks to everyone for all your support! 

 

 

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!

https://i0.wp.com/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/ .

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.

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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

On the one-year anniversary the historic MAP test boycott, teachers launch campaign in the upcoming Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election.

MastheadToday, I am excited to announce that I am entering the election to run for president of my union, the Seattle Education Association.  It is truly an honor to have been nominated to run for president on the Social Equality Educator’s “Respect” slate of candidates–an unparalleled team of educators in Seattle, running for officer and executive board positions, who are dedicated to achieving the schools Seattle’s children deserve.  If you live in the Seattle area, please consider attending our MAP test boycott anniversary celebration and campaign kick off event on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 4:30 p.m., at the Garfield Community Center (2323 E Cherry St, Seattle). You can RSVP at: https://www.facebook.com/events/584713934950158/

We would be grateful for your support of our campaign by making a secure donation on the Social Equality Educator’s Pay Pal Account located on the side bar of our website. With your help we can win this election and just education system!

Please read the announcement for our campaign:

J A N U A R Y 21, 2 0 1 4

On the one-year anniversary the historic MAP test boycott,

teachers launch campaign in the upcoming

Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election.

Social Equality Educators (SEE) will introduce its “Respect” slate of candidates and education platform for the upcoming SEA union election at a January 30th Garfield Community Center forum.

The SEE Respect candidates for office will include a coalition of MAP boycott leaders, members of current SEA Board of Directors, award-winning teachers, teachers new to the profession, and veteran educators, including:

  • Jesse Hagopian, “Secondary Teacher of the Year,” Garfield High School, leader in MAP           boycott—For SEA President
  • Marian Wagner, National Board Certified Teacher, Salmon Bay K-8,
    current member of SEA Board of Directors—For SEA Vice President
  • Dan Troccoli, current Vice President of the SEA Substitute Association, founding member of SEE—For SEA Treasurer
  • And a slate of other candidates for the SEA Board of Directors

What: MAP Boycott Celebration/SEE Respect union candidates announcement

When: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

Where: Garfield Community Center (2323 E Cherry St, Seattle)

For more information:

hagopian.jesse@gmail.com

www.socialequalityeducators.org

 “We have a bold vision for educating Seattle’s children,” said Jesse Hagopian, teacher and Black Student Union advisor at Garfield High School, and SEE’s “Respect” candidate for president in the upcoming Seattle Education Association election. “This month marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement by my colleagues at Garfield that they would defend students by refusing to administer the deeply flawed MAP test. That movement galvanized parents, students, and education advocates across the city and around the nation.  Today, educators throughout Seattle—many of whom were inspired by our stand for authentic assessment—are organizing to bring this movement for an equitable, high-quality education into our union election.”

In January of 2013, teachers at Garfield High School began the “MAP test boycott,” a movement that was supported by the student body government and the PTSA.   The boycott then spread to several other schools in Seattle, including Orca K-8, Chief Sealth International High School, Ballard High School, Center School, and Thornton Creek Elementary—while solidarity with the boycott spread around Seattle, the nation, and then around the world.   The MAP test boycott by Seattle’s educators has been widely credited with having played transformative role in the debate around standardized testing in the U.S.—as was recently recognized in national media, including The Nation, Alternet, ColorLines magazine, and The Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet.”

“It was an extremely difficult decision to run for Vice President of the SEA because I don’t want to leave the classroom.  I love the challenge of improving our world through teaching the next generation, but the education of our youth is not being supported systematically,” said Marian Wagner, 5th grade teacher at Salmon Bay K-8. “I can’t ignore the thunderous cry of phenomenal educators who are not being heard.  I am agreeing to step in and run on their behalf.”

The Social Equality Educators will host an award ceremony on January 30th to recognize the leadership and courage of teachers participating in the boycott. Teachers and prominent community leaders fighting for social justice will also speak briefly, followed by the announcement of SEE’s Respect slate of candidates.

“The Respect slate of candidates is made up of teachers who support valid, reliable assessment, responsible evaluation, and full funding for the education of Seattle’s students,” said Dan Troccoli, the current Vice President of the SEA Substitute Association.   Educators will elaborate on the Respect platform at the event.

“As a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools and a SEA union representative for many years, I have never been so excited about an election before because of SEE’s ‘Respect’ slate of candidates,” said Roberta Lindeman, a teacher at Chief Sealth High School.  “I’m confident that these educators will best represent Seattle’s students and educators, will fight for student and teacher assessment based on best practices, and will bring a voice of reason to education reform.”

Join us as we celebrate this important victory and launch the next

campaign for education justice in Seattle!

#     #     #

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: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Social-Equality-Educators/169703146420873

And you can follow developments in the MAP test boycott at: http://scrapthemap.wordpress.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/SolidarityWithGarfieldHighSchoolTestingBoycott

Read those websites, then start your own revolution.

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