Sunday, November 22, 2015

Jesse Hagopian visits Antioch University LA

Jesse Hagopian visits Antioch University LA on November 9, 2015 

Jesse Hagopian teaches History at Garfield High School in Seattle where the entire faculty voted to refuse to administer the high-stakes MAP test.   Jesse edited the book More Than A Score about opting out and more of high-stakes tests.

   Jesse started teaching in 2001 -- at the beginning of NCLB - the  "test and punish" regime -- for his whole career.  
But all of this took on new meaning to him when his five year-old entered kindergarten at an International School teaching Spanish and Mandarin immersion.  Big ceremony held with cultural performances, talks, etc. but then the Governor's Aide says to "tell the kids they will be prepared to compete in the global economy."   Jesse didn't want this to mean that they would subjugate others in the global economy.
   Edward B. Rust Jr. - and the adoption of standards -- see the list of who attended the launch of these standards -- standards will give us the competitive edge and make business more money.  Children will fulfill the needs of business -- from low wage earners to tech to prison.
   THE AMOUNT OF TESTING IS BREATHTAKING - Jesse Hagopian.   112 tests from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.  Some take 30 tests in one year!  High stakes are attached to these for students, teachers, schools -- the 50 schools closed in Chicago are an example of what can happen.    NCLB, RTtT, and CCSS -- the testocracy is gutting schools.  BUT -- a great uprising has occurred -- so much so that Obama came out for less testing on his Facebook page.  Nothing may come of Obama's saying this because the Feds do not administer the tests and they can't repeal them.  Contracts with Pearson can't just be cancelled -- although this is happening right now in New York.  
   "Education Spring"  -- Seattle teachers went on strike for several key demands:  1.  No VAM - Value Added Measures to evaluate teachers.  2.  Race and Equity teams in every school.  No more suspensions. 3.  Recess -  schools had less than 30 minutes of recess.  Parent group demanded more time so the teachers' union adopted this demand.  
   It was an incredible battle -- the community rose up.  Soup for Teachers formed, brought pizza and solidarity to the teachers.  Even the City Council supported them.  THEY WON!  At least 30 teams were formed at schools.  Recess increased to 45 minutes.  And Test Scores REMOVED from teacher evaluation. First time this has happened in the country!  
   Education Spring -- amazing stories all over the country.  For example, the Providence Student Union - did a Zombie Demonstration against testing!  The also got 60 professionals to take the test and 60% of them failed!!! so they could no longer claim the test was key to the future of students' achievement.  There is resistance in various communities -- In New Mexico hundreds walked out saying "we're more than at score".  And more teachers are refusing to give the test.    St. Paul, Minnesota had to take an illegal action to defeat an illegal law!  It is in the state law to use test scores to evaluate teachers.  "Fight for the schools our children deserve."
   Parents really are the leaders of this --  60,000 students opted out in Washington state; 200,000 opted out in New York.  The resistance is growing.  And a spark that helped to light this resistance was the GARFIELD MAP REFUSAL. "Suspend the test, not the students."  Jesse was the union rep at Garfield when a teacher came to him and said "we could refuse to do harm to our students."  Jesse was stunned by her bravery.  He held a meeting in the library and asked the teachers if they would join.  Animosity to MAP was widespread.  ELL teachers said it was linguistically and culturally humiliating to their students.  Language Arts teachers were told there was a higher margin of error in the test.  It shuts down the libraries for weeks just to administer the test MAP -- so everyone was against it!  Jesse went through the contract -- you cannot refuse a direct order.  One teacher said -- "I am tired of seeing these kids run over by tests and I'd rather be reprimanded."  100% of the teachers voted to boycott!  The school district put them on notice -- they could face a ten day suspension.  Unanimous support by teachers, students, and thousands of signatures of solidarity from around the country -- this was a national crisis and they stood up against it!!!
   The superintendent tried to get the administrators to give the test.  He went into the "lion's den" to talk to the teachers at Garfield.  Garfield high is the center of Black Struggle in Seattle.   Jesse graduated from Garfield, his mom was PTA president, his father is a teacher.  The Superintendent listened to them.  Jesse told him -- you're new here in Seattle -- your decision will seal your fate!  If you demand this test, you are giving in to Gates, Broad, etc. etc.  If not -- you will be a real leader of our school system.   
   Parents and students brought flyers -- "know your rights" - "you can OPT OUT" for other students to know.  Parents sent in Opt Out letters.  Students staged a sit-in in their own classroom.   Go to the link to see videos, letters of solidarity, media, etc. A great resource for fighting back.    
   Jesse is very proud of Garfield.  The Superintendent actually suspended the MAP for always for Seattle secondary.  Still at the elementary level but they are working on fighting this.
   2013 inspired Portland, Chicago, teachers, Opt Out wave in New York.  Garfield shouldn't take all the credit -- elite private schools are original boycotters after all. [Gates children don't take tests.]  The Testocracy send their kids to these elite schools where they have creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, Olympic sized swimming pools, libraries, etc.  They can boycott but rote memorization is good enough for our kids!  
   Jesse and Pedro Noguera debated Cunningham -- former US assistant secretary of education under Arne Duncan. "your system holds those with the most power the least accountable"  Noguera told Cunningham.  We want wrap around services for our kids too.  
   Testing -- The Civil Rights Movement of our Time - tests are key for the achievement gap [the opportunity gap is really what it is].  [Read Xian Franzinger Barrett for a perspective on this.]   
Standardized testing entered schools in the 1900s -- Eugenics movement -- male supremacy and white supremacy ruled!    I.Q. tests were administered to the soldiers in World War II - one of the Eugenics people did this.  Then turned these into the SAT -- Study in American Intelligence - is the book by this Eugenicist.  "The United States was falling behind." Why?  "Because we have more African Americans than Europe does."  Proud of his racist and Eugenicist views.  
   W.E.B. DuBois resisted these tests.  Others fought as well.  
Garfield refused and then built a partnership with New York -- 30 schools -- Consortium for Performance Based Assessment.  Defend your thesis at the end of a year before a panel of experts. Dissertations - the test is learning too -- the experts ask questions that provoke you to think.  So these schools shouldn't do well on the tests, say the Testocracy.  But they are the best schools by every measure.  More students graduate. 86% of African Americans go to college.  This goes beyond statistics -- these students know why they are in school!!
   Our society is in a deep crisis -- income inequality is worse. We

are in endless wars.  Violence against women - rape culture.  Immigration - more people deported than ever before.  
   Climate Change -- the greatest challenge.  3 degrees irreversible -- CRITICAL THINKING, COURAGE, CREATIVITY, EMPATHY, LEADERSHIP SKILLS -- these are what will save us. NOT TESTS!!   
   Amber Kudla [in More Than A Score] gave her valedictory speech about the current state of public education. The title of her speech was the phone number for the State Legislature that is pushing the tests.  She quotes John Green on the only test that matters.  She quotes Albert Einstein who said you cannot standardize learning. "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."
   1. Question -- information to show that the MAP is ineffective.  Go to the website -  MAP gives a score - but doesn't tell you what they need for ranking and sorting.
   2.  Need to go to parents. Teachers are afraid. 
Jesse said they should have gotten the PTA on their side.

   Recess time - a significant parent movement in Seattle around this.  Also because of the insistence that children read in Kindergarten!!  This needs to be stopped.   
   3.  Need programs to empower parents
   There is no more bussing in Seattle.  They had to pay for a school guard crossing.  Money for tests -- but not for the supplies that every classroom needs.  Make these connections with the parents.  
   Jesse sympathetic that people of color want their children to score high -- even though we need to get rid of rote learning.  Tests are being used to close down the schools of people of color and to fire African American teachers.  New Orleans is the biggest example but also New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berkeley.  
   4.  Repercussions on Opt Out for students -- MAP did not mean much for the students. It mostly affected the teachers.  [Witness the suicide of  teacher Rigoberto Ruelas in Los Angeles after he was deemed ineffective in the Los Angeles Times report of teacher scores.]  Other tests do affect students -- each one is different. 
   5. Student from New Orleans -- parents and teachers are building resistance there now.  
READ:  The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
              The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The elite use crises as moments of great opportunity for profit. 
   Arne Duncan said Hurricane Katrina was the greatest thing to happen for education in New Orleans.   New Orleans is fighting back. But, for example, Lee Barrios ran for School Board and was met with an opponent who got money from Broad, Bloomberg, et al.   The good people lost this election.
   6. The state of Washington ruled against funding charters! The state constitution provides for "common schools" so it was possible to make a legal challenge to the charters (that are not common schools). Unfortunately California doesn't have this provision.
   There are lawsuits - some - around testing.  A teacher in New York is suing -- against VAM.   The American Statistical Association says this is JUNK SCIENCE.
   We have put the Testocracy on the defensive.  We need to go on the OFFENSIVE!  This spring should be bigger OPT OUT than ever!
   The NAACP in Seattle is telling parents to OPT OUT!!! 
   Jesse says -- the best way to avoid burnout is to join the struggle.
All of this is because we have a "meritocracy" - but in fact it's to keep people in their place.  Militarizing the police forces all over the country. [Los Angeles Unified School District has a tank and automatic weapons donated by the military.]
   Jesse spoke at his child's school - did a book talk on More Than A Score - helping the parents to resist. 
   This is what it is all about -- we are here to fix our world.
   When everybody does it -- OPTS OUT -- we are powerful!!

Jesse has a blog - here he reports FairTest reporting of 2015 victories against high stakes testing.