Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teachers, Parents, Students

An update:

A few days ago, I wrote about Seattle's Garfield High School teachers voting unanimously to refuse to administer the $4 million standardized MAP test, stating that it was a waste of their student's time, a poorly designed test that provides little information of value, and that it is being misused by Seattle Public Schools to evaluate teachers.

Since that time the Garfield PTA and the student body have thrown their support behind the boycott, while teachers from other schools around the district have joined the protest, with several more votes planned in the coming days. The teachers have received support from educators around the country, including former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch. 

Critics of the MAP tests point out that the tests, which are administered up to three times a year, are not taken seriously by students (they're neither a graduation requirement nor a course requirement). In fact, they're piled on top of three-to-five other standardized tests that high school students must take in order to graduate. Critics also note that MAP tests' margin of error is often greater than students' expected progress, and that the test has been re-purposed as a tool for evaluating teachers and placing students in select courses, against the tests' original intent and despite years of teacher objections.

According to Garfield teacher Rachel Eells speaking with the Seattle Times:

"I am willing to have my craft looked at and evaluated, but this isn't the way to do it."

This is a movement that appears to have widespread support among teachers, parents and students, which means it will likely grow over the next month as the testing deadline of February 22 approaches. Teachers at several other Seattle high schools have issued statements of support and will likely be considering joining the boycott in coming days.

Garfield teachers and other boycott supporters are hosting an anti-MAP rally today (Jan. 23) at 4 p.m. at the John Standford Center (2445 3rd Ave. S) in Seattle. If you're in the area, please make your way there.

I'm terribly heartened by this and proud that it's happening in my city. It's a small, first step, but an important one I think, in that it will only be when teachers, parents, and students work together to push back against "drill and kill" corporate education "reform" efforts that we will finally get the public schools we want and deserve.

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