Youth P.R.O.M.I.S.E. and Gun Violence

Last week’s feature report discussed The Iceberg Effect, a recent study examining factors that influence education but often remain unmentioned and unmeasured. We learned, for example, that the United States has three times more violent deaths than the other eight nations studied. Another study, released at the close of 2014, focused specifically on gun violence. (See Everytown for Gun Safety)

EverytownThe Everytown Analysis of School Shootings found 94 such incidents since the Sandy Hook, CT, mass shooting in December 2012: 44 took place on college campuses, and 50 at K-12 schools. Foreshadowing the publication cited above, the Everytown Analysis adds: “When it comes to American children being exposed to gunfire, these shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. A recent report by the Urban Institute showed that in just a single school district, Washington, DC, there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over just a single school year.”

These facts of life affect students in a number of ways, including a phenomenon known as “toxic stress,” in which sustained levels of trauma actually alter brain architecture.

Al Jazeera America began a seven-part series on Guns in Schools this past Monday.

The series launched with a review of gun control measures in the U.S. since Sandy Hook. Despite national paralysis, Naureen Khan reports, “a flurry of activity has taken place at the state level,” both strengthening and weakening controls.

In a second article, Natasja Sheriff looks at reduced federal and state-level spending for school violence prevention initiatives and for school counselors.

In a third installment, Ashley Cleek explores the affect of security measures themselves on students. Child psychologists suggest that young people feel less safe as schools become more militarized and prompt hypervigilance on the part of students.

Al Jazeera America continues to explore this topic from many different perspectives.

Washington, Chicago, and Beyond

Meanwhile, Washington, DC, lost three young people to gun violence this month – with 17- and 22-year-old men killed just down Martin Luther King Avenue from this studio and additional non-fatal shootings in that area. In response, a standing-room-only crowd participated in a “Community Conversation on Violence” last week, identifying problems, brainstorming solutions, and beginning an action plan. A special report outlines suggestions from both IN- and OUTside that gathering.

Finally, today is the second death anniversary of Hadiya Pendleton. The 15-year-old Chicago scholar and drill-team member had recently returned to her hometown (and this author’s) after participating in Obama’s second inaugural parade, when she was killed in her local public park.

Hadiya_2Hadiya’s parents founded an organization to work in her name for needed changes. Hadiya’s Promise is now working in coalition with 250 organizations to promote a multi-faceted approach known as the Youth PROMISE – Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education – Act. The Youth P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Act has been proposed in both the House and the Senate. Amnesty International is helping to mount a campaign urging passage.

In addition to reading the various reports highlighted here, please share YOUR ideas for helping young people survive and thrive. Use the comment section below, and propose future show topics through our Contact Form.

— with prayers for real change SOON,
Virginia Spatz, feature reporter
(more thoughts on Hadiya and youth needs)

Listen to this report and the full January 29 program here —

Power of Youth Images: Critical Exposure

Critical Exposure trains young people to use photography and advocacy to create change in their schools and communities. The organization, based in DC, but working in other cities as well, is nearing its 10th anniversary.

(L-R) V. Spatz, Felicia Ramos, Delonte Williams, T. Byrd, Z. Lewis (intern)

(L-R:) V. Spatz; Felicia Ramos, Delonte Williams, of Crtical Exposure; T. Byrd, Z. Lewis (intern)

Felicia Ramos, DC Program Manager, describes the program’s history of helping youth who usually go unheard and unseen in the system develop photography as a tool for communicating their reality and advocating for their needs.

Delonte Williams tells the Education Town Hall how Critical Exposure helped him, as a high school student, find his voice and understand the power of images. Now on staff, he helps run a campaign on the school-to-prison-pipeline.

Visit CriticalExposure‘s website to learn about its on-going campaign on police presence in schools, about the Fellows program — open house for new candidates Feb 18! — and other activities.

Track 3 here —

 

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC, Thursdays at 11 Eastern on We Act Radio.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

The Education Town Hall BUS is a monthly program organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March. The program regularly airs on the 4th Thursday of each month.

photo: Critical Exposure

photo: Critical Exposure

Through campaigns and visual storytelling, students learn tools to express themselves, creative approaches to old problems, and advocacy skills. Critical Exposure (CE) works through partnerships with Washington DC high school and afterschool programs. CE helps students raise their voices in conversations about education policies and build the public support and political to address the issues they face.

Since the organization’s founding in 2004, CE has helped students secure over $500 million in additional funds and push for crucial improvements in their schools.

Also on the January 29 Education Town Hall: Greta Fuller, candidate for DC’s Ward 8 City Council seat.

Delonte Williams

Delonte Williams is a D.C. native who is very interested in creating social change and making sure that the people in his community know the history of why things are the way they are. Delonte was a member of our Fellowship program from 2012-2014 and is the first Fellow to join our staff. As a member of the program team Delonte coordinates and facilitates our in-School  and in-house programs.
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Felicia Ramos

Felicia Ramos hails from Chicago with an extensive background in advocacy, youth development, and program design. Felicia’s experience working within Chicago’s school and housing systems, as well as for non-profit agencies here in D.C. has expanded her capacity to support and empower marginalized young people.

Through her work in Chicago’s nonprofit field, Felicia revamped and facilitated teen dating violence prevention workshops and forums for over 1,000 high school students. As the Program Director for the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) Groundbreakers, she had the unique opportunity to partner with 30 high school students to plan and build over 30 new playgrounds each year.
As the DC Program Felicia works with the Program team to support the development of our young people’s capacities to advocate for themselves.

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Greta Fuller, Candidate for DC City Council, Ward 8

Greta Fuller advocates for “education that works for youth, adults, and re-entry citizens,” as part of her campaign for DC City Council.

DSC01632Ms. Fuller is among the many candidates seeking to fill the Ward 8 seat left vacant when Council-member (and former Mayor) Marion Barry died in late 2014. Her own education includes degrees in electrical engineering, acupuncture, and oriental medicine.

In this conversation, Ms. Fuller stresses the need for parental involvement and parenting education in the city. She also advocates for a moratorium on charter schools opening and examination of what is being offered, including social services, at existing schools.

Track 4 below —

 

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC, Thursdays at 11 Eastern on We Act Radio.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

The Education Town Hall BUS is a monthly program organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March. The program regularly airs on the 4th Thursday of each month.

Youth, Safety, Opportunity , & Education

special report from DC’s Ward 8

YouthlistCalls for art instruction, more recreational activities, youth employment and mentorship, “training vs. incarceration,” and a host of other education-related issues were front and center through a recent “Community Conversation about Violence in [Washington, DC’s] Ward 8.” Roughly 200 community members gathered in response to a recent spate of shootings, including two fatalities just days apart. The topics of policing, crime, and guns were raised. But educational needs were underscored throughout the conversation, as was the effect of violence on student lives.

A variety of approaches are underway, in a struggle that dovetails with the national Black Lives Matter movement.

Here’s a report from southeast DC — Community Conversation report — including links for locals to become involved.

Which communities around the nation are dealing with similar issues in and around education?

How are local and national activists working together?

The Education Town Hall wants to know. Please share your stories.

Students and Teachers as Widgets? The New Congress and Draft ESEA Changes

What changes will the new Congress bring for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)? How is the “opt out” movement influencing legislation? Learn what Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) has proposed, what has been introduced in the House, and what citizens can do as ESEA re-authorization progresses. Hear, in particular, about proposals to make teacher educators and schools of education “accountable” for K12 test scores.

BUS ethlogo
The Education Town Hall BUS is organized monthly by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March.

This month’s guests: Bob Schaeffer, FairTest (track 3); Ruth Silverberg (track 5), City Univ. of New York-Staten Island’s School of Education; and Denisha Jones (track 4), Howard University. (Background on each)

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC, Thursdays at 11 Eastern on We Act Radio.
Listen live via TuneIn.

Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

Guest Background

Ruth Powers Silverberg, new to the Education Town Hall, is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island.

She has taught prospective school leaders and teachers there for 12 years, and works with Reclaiming the Conversation in Education, Save Our Schools and United Optout in the movement to end high stakes use of standardized testing at all levels.

Bob Schaeffer is Public Education Director of FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, serving since its founding in 1985. He is the author of several publications on testing and has previously served as editorial writer for an NBC-TV affiliate and a research associate for the Education Research Center at MIT.

While Schaeffer is new to the Education Town Hall, Monty Neill from FairTest has previously joined conversation on the BUS.

Denisha Jones teaches early childhood education at Howard University professor, an early organizer of BadAss Teachers Association, and regular guest of the Education Town Hall.

BACK

Education and Inter-Generational Incarceration

Stuart Anderson, founder of Family and Friends of Incarcerated People, joined the Education Town Hall on Thursday, 1/8, to speak about education’s role in this group’s mission: avoiding inter-generational incarceration. As a candidate for DC’s City Council, Anderson will also address his vision for education in the city more generally and the use of school properties.

For more on children of incarcerated parents click here.

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC, Thursdays at 11 Eastern on We Act Radio.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

The Education Town Hall BUS is a monthly program organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March. The next BUS program is scheduled for Jan 22. The program regularly airs on the 4th Thursday of each month.

Welcome to YOUR Ed Forum!

The Education Town Hall with Thomas Byrd is the contemporary meeting place facilitating the construction of effective community-supported education solutions and strategic transformational actions. All are welcome.

The price of admission is your sincere desire to lend your voice and talents in transforming our education system into the very best this nation has to offer. The Education Town Hall is the intersection where parents, students, teachers, administrators, community members, policy makers and politicians can all meet to share stories, struggles, and solutions. If you feel that you haven’t had a voice before, please know that you do now.

The Education Town Hall airs Thursdays on We Act Radio, broadcasting from Historic Anacostia in the nation’s capital, at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern).

Listen via TuneIn wherever there’s internet.

Continue reading

National Launch Campaign

The Education Town Hall’s “National Launch” campaign concluded at the end of October. We thank everyone who visited the site and helped spread the word! Each contribution of time and energy is deeply appreciated and helps the Education Town Hall bring together local and national activists working to improve education, from the earliest years through adulthood.

Additional thanks to our financial donors:

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Brittany Alexander
Allyson C. Brown
Mireille Ellsworth
Mary Filardo
Marla Kilfoyle (BATs)
Michael Kimsey
Hugh D. Lawrence
Mary Levy
Danita Long
JoEllen Marley
Dorothy Marshak (CHIME)
Sandra Munnell
Keith D. Reeves
Cathy Reilly
Sheila Resseger
Andy Shallal
Mark A. Simon
Stephen M. Smith
Anne Tenaglia
Suzanne Wells

Donated funds are already at work in keeping the show on the air, helping to maintain this website. Soon, the Education Town Hall will be hiring an intern.

Training Youth in the Power of the Image: Critical Exposure in DC

Critical Exposure trains young people to use photography and advocacy to create change in their schools and communities. Tune in on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 11 a.m. (Eastern) to learn how this organization has helped students recognize the power of their images and their voices. Joining the Education Town Hall are Delonte Williams, the first Critical Exposure Fellow to join the staff, and Felicia Ramos, DC Program Manager.

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC, Thursdays at 11 Eastern on We Act Radio.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

The Education Town Hall BUS is a monthly program organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March. The program regularly airs on the 4th Thursday of each month.

photo: Critical Exposure

photo: Critical Exposure

Through campaigns and visual storytelling, students learn tools to express themselves, creative approaches to old problems, and advocacy skills. Critical Exposure (CE) works through partnerships with Washington DC high school and afterschool programs. CE helps students raise their voices in conversations about education policies and build the public support and political to address the issues they face.

Since the organization’s founding in 2004, CE has helped students secure over $500 million in additional funds and push for crucial improvements in their schools.

Also on the January 29 Education Town Hall: Greta Fuller, candidate for DC’s Ward 8 City Council seat.

Delonte Williams

Delonte Williams is a D.C. native who is very interested in creating social change and making sure that the people in his community know the history of why things are the way they are. Delonte was a member of our Fellowship program from 2012-2014 and is the first Fellow to join our staff. As a member of the program team Delonte coordinates and facilitates our in-School  and in-house programs. 
TOP

Felicia Ramos

Felicia Ramos hails from Chicago with an extensive background in advocacy, youth development, and program design. Felicia’s experience working within Chicago’s school and housing systems, as well as for non-profit agencies here in D.C. has expanded her capacity to support and empower marginalized young people.

Through her work in Chicago’s nonprofit field, Felicia revamped and facilitated teen dating violence prevention workshops and forums for over 1,000 high school students. As the Program Director for the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) Groundbreakers, she had the unique opportunity to partner with 30 high school students to plan and build over 30 new playgrounds each year. 
As the DC Program Felicia works with the Program team to support the development of our young people’s capacities to advocate for themselves.

TOP

Greta Fuller on Education: Candidate for Ward 8 City Council Seat

Greta Fuller advocates for “education that works for youth, adults, and re-entry citizens,” as part of her campaign for DC City Council. Tune in Thursday, January 29, at 11:30 to hear more.

GretaMs. Fuller is among the many candidates seeking to fill the Ward 8 seat left vacant when Councilmember (and former Mayor) Marion Barry died in late 2014. Her own education includes degrees in electrical engineering, acupuncture, and oriental medicine.

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC, Thursdays at 11 Eastern on We Act Radio.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

The Education Town Hall BUS is a monthly program organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March. The program regularly airs on the 4th Thursday of each month.

United Opt Out Public Letter to Senator Alexander

Originally published by United Opt Out on January 22, 2015

Dear Senator Alexander,

There is a great deal of discussion about where education leaders and organizations “stand” when it comes to the latest revision for ESEA titled Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015. In response, the organizers of United Opt Out (UOO) find that we stand between Scylla and Charybdis, between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

In your bill you pose the question of support for Option 1, a reduction in testing to grade span, or Option 2, which continues the current testing nightmare; we support neither.  We find many items in the 400 page document too egregious and insupportable even though we do accept the notion of “grade span testing,” preferably via random sampling, as an alternative to what is in place now. 

While we understand why many of our respected colleagues have shown support for Option 1 in your bill, we cannot endorse either. This is because both options are tucked neatly inside a larger bill that promotes the expansion of charters and other policies destructive overall to the well-being of students, public schools, and communities.  Another reason we are reluctant, no matter what enticing promises are included therein, is due to those who lobbied for this bill in 2013: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Alliance for Excellent Education and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has immense ties to ALEC.

While we are inclined to support H.R. 4172 – Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act  sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, which also calls for grade span testing, we would like to see additional safeguards included against possible punitive state policies. In our assessment, it does not go far enough to protect children, educators, and communities against state policies that are damaging in nature in spite of good intent. To elaborate, this bill requires those tests be administered at least once during: (1) grades 3 through 5, (2) grades 6 through 9, and (3) grades 10 through 12. However, “under H.R. 4172, the states would retain the ability to exceed federal testing requirements if they seek to do so.” In other words, students could be tested just as much as they are now if states choose to do so. The bill is not a guaranteed protection against over-testing and its punitive consequences; it’s just a hope. We believe that hope alone is not sufficient.

Make no mistake, Senator Alexander, we understand fully that you are a supporter of the privatization of public schools.  Despite that fact, your bill and Gibson’s may be preferable to some who are against the privatization of public schools because they contain the possibility of being better than the existing federal and state policies.  However, they are not appealing to many, in particular states that have suffered the negative impact of high stakes testing.  Furthermore, we can’t see how either of the current bills proposed are the “solution” to problems such as equity in funding, re-segregation, compromised pedagogy, data mining, or the intrusion of corporate interests – to cite from a list of many –  that continue to fester in public education.

We agree that  education decisions should be decided in state legislative and local district bodies, but safeguards should be in place to ensure horrific policies such as over testing and attaching results to student, teacher, school, and community worthiness are not pushed through state and district legislative bodies.  Your bill and Gibson’s include no such safeguards for polices that have been detrimental to the non-white, special needs, immigrant, and impoverished communities.

UOO and most other human rights organizations will vigorously oppose ANY state level measures that sanction the following:

  •  Increase standardized testing even if it’s under “state control”
  • Support using high stakes to make decisions about students, educators, school buildings, or communities
  • Use of sanctions such as “shuts downs” or “turn overs” based on test data of any kind
  • Display favoritism toward increased charters and state voucher programs
  • Facilitate data mining and collection of private student information
  • Engage in sweet insider deals between state policy makers and corporations or testing companies using tax-payer dollars and at the expense of safety, quality and equity in public education

Therefore, we demand greater safety, equity and quality for ALL schools and that includes the elimination of ALL standardized -paper based or computer adaptive testing – that redirects tax-based funding for public education to corporations and is punitive or damaging to children, teachers, schools, and communities.

We will not accept ANY bill until the following criteria are included:

  •  Increased resources for the inclusion of local, quality curricular adoptions devoid of “teaching to the test”
  • Quality, creative, authentic, and appropriate assessment measures for general students, special needs, and English language learners that are sustainable and classroom teacher-created
  • Smaller teacher/student ratios
  • Wrap-around social programs, arts,  physical education programs, and creative play recess
  • Career-focused magnet programs

Additionally, we demand legislation that supports a broad and deep system-wide examination of the power structures that perpetuate poverty-level existence for millions of Americans.

To conclude, we find ourselves having to choose between being shot in the head and being shot in the foot. For now, we choose neither. Instead we call for continued revisions of current legislation to include the items and protections outlined in this letter. We thank you for this opportunity to share our sentiments and our voice.

Sincerely,

United Opt Out Administrators:

Rosemarie Jensen
Denisha Jones
Morna McDermott
Peggy Robertson
Ruth Rodriquez
Tim Slekar
Ceresta Smith

EMPATHY V. CRITICISM: HOW TO RESPOND TO THOSE WHO THINK MORE TESTING IS NEEDED TO IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION

Originally published by emPower Magazine on Wednesday January 21, 2015

On Sunday January 11, 2015, a group of 19 civil rights organizations released a statement that outlined their shared principles regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Of the seven recommendations, there is one that has many education activists a bit alarmed by the position these groups are taking,

“Annual, statewide assessments for all students (in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school) that are aligned with, and measure each student’s progress toward meeting, the state’s college and career-ready standards…”

In 2001 ESEA was reauthorized under President George W. Bush and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was birthed. For many teachers NCLB was the starting point for testing mania that has taken over public education today. Under NCLB public schools that received Title I funding were forced to test all students each year, make public the results of those tests based on race, and make adequate yearly progress (AYP) or risk being turned into a charter school. And of course the mandate came with no funding for schools that were already witnessing declining budget allocations in many states.

Since 2001 public education has been the target of education reformers who believe that more testing especially high stakes testing, and firing teachers based on test scores is what low-income, minority, and special needs children need to succeed. Unfortunately President Obama made things worse when he instituted Race to the Top which is NCLB on steroids…more testing, more charters, and more evaluation of teachers based on their ability to increase test scores. Many teachers have publicly left the teaching profession due to the excessive testing and impossible mandates. And more and more parents are choosing to opt their children out of standardized testingwhile some teachers are refusing to administer tests they believe are not an accurate measure of what a student has learned.

FairTest-Pipeline-Infographic

Despite the growing anti-testing movement, civil rights groups like the NAACP and Children’s Defense Fund, believe that testing is needed to ensure equity and fairness for all children. This belief is perplexing to those who see the damage excessive testing has done to all children. An article by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post criticizes this decision by asking what are all those civil rights groups thinking? What is missing in the article is an attempt to find out why so many civil rights organizations believe that yearly standardized testing is the best way to close the achievement gap. For many parents of black and brown children, they saw NCLB as the first time schools were forced to admit that they were not doing a good educating their children. The mandates required each school to disaggregate the test scores by race and gender. This made it painfully obvious which schools were not producing satisfactory levels of achievement in minority students. We always knew there was an achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white counterparts, but now we can see what the gap looks like in every school. And now these schools have no choice but to make sure these students improve their scores or risk being labeled as failing and forced into an improvement plan.

On the surface this line of thinking makes sense. Before NCLB many schools could hide the fact that some groups of students were not doing well. Many parents believed that prior to NCLB some teachers and schools did not try to educate all students, especially students of color. Given the racial history of public schools this is not an outlandish conspiracy theory. Since public schools were legally mandated to end segregated schooling, disparities in achievement and equity have plagued black and brown children. Any student of color in the U.S. can describe to you at least one racist encounter they experienced in public schools. The fact is public education in the U.S. was not designed to serve children of color well. This does not mean that all teachers are racist, but it should shed light on why civil rights groups might welcome testing that appears to hold schools accountable for the education of all children.

Yes there is racism in public schools. There will always be some type of racism in every aspect of American culture and institutions. But the solution to dealing with racism in education is NOT mandated testing. Testing shows us that there is an achievement gap but that gap cannot be closed through more testing. The results of standardized testing tells us more about the income level of families and less about what a student has learned or how good teachers are at their job. Contrary to the supposed benefits of testing all children, high stakes standardized testing and the test-prep culture contribute to low-achieving students being pushed out of school, a decline in graduation rates for children of color, and an increase in the school-to-prison pipeline. As classrooms are turned into testing factories and teachers and principals are pressured into raising scores, children become less engaged, act out more, and get into trouble which is often the first step to entering the school-to-prison pipeline. Students who cannot pass mandatory graduation tests are forced to drop out. And some school districts push students out of school to keep them from taking the tests and bring down the scores. These disadvantages far outweigh the possible advantage that mandated yearly testing could have on children of color.

So why would 19 civil rights organizations demand more testing when there is a vast amount of research that shows how harmful high stakes standardized testing can be for low-income and minority children? I suspect that part of the reason is that the corporate reformers talk a good game. They appeal to parents who feel like they are trapped in failing public schools by co-opting the language of the civil rights movement. This is how an organization like Teach for America can be lauded by many as the savior of public education when in reality they place inexperienced, unqualified, mostly white recent college graduates in schools with students who have the most need, for a couple of years increasing the historic problem of teacher turnover. They claim to want to help low-income students but in reality they are a business that profits off of de-professionalizing the teaching profession by turning teaching into a 2 year temporary experience that anyone can do with five weeks of training. However if you are a parent and your child has consistently had teachers who are racist or do not seem to care, you might just appreciate this energetic fresh faced new comer. It is not hard to see how some parents can be deceived into thinking that the education reforms being forced onto schools are going to finally turn our public school system into an equitable and anti-racist institution.

So before you criticize these civil rights group for endorsing more testing you might want to ask yourself what would lead them to take that position. And you should ask yourself if your criticisms of them are going to expose the dangers of standardized testing or further alienate a group of people who have routinely been shut out from mainstream conversation. Criticism does not build allies or welcome people who have been marginalized to join the fight. This does not mean that we should not engage in a thoughtful discussion that challenges the dangers in believing standardized testing can put an end to racial discrimination in schools, but consider the difference in thisresponse and the message it sends.

Likewise, when we deepen the conversation about standardized testing, we usually discover that parents and educators want similar things for our children. If standardized tests are widely and loudly touted as an anti-racist measure of opportunity and fairness, some parents who are desperately searching for some measure of fairness for their children might latch onto that. Those of us who are opposed to high-stakes standardized testing shouldn’t moralize with people, or disparage their viewpoints or their experience. Rather, we have to validate their experience and find a way to deepen the conversation.

If you are an ally to the education activists who are fighting to save public education from the grips of testing and profits, we need you to empathize with these people and not insult them by calling their thinking shallow. The reality is the corporate reformers know how to appeal to these parents concerns. They show sympathy and profess to be committed to helping these children escape the schools that continue to fail them. Maybe if we did the same they would see us as allies and join our fight. The true work of reforming public education into a system where oppression and discrimination are not tolerated and children engage in meaningful learning with teachers who use authentic assessment to guide students into tapping in to their full potential, can only be done when we stop criticizing those who have historically been on the receiving end of a unjust public education system and learn to work together to make our shared vision a reality.