Building the School-to-Justice Pipeline: Discussion with teacher-activist Jesse Hagopian

Standardized testing began as part of a movement for White Supremacy, teacher Jesse Hagopian told the Education Town Hall on May 21:

If you know that their origins [standardized tests] were in the eugenics movement, it makes absolutely no sense that we would use them today in a civil rights struggle.

from @JessedHagopian on Twitter
from @JessedHagopian on Twitter

Hagopian added that W.E.B. DuBois, a founder of the NAACP, was “one of the first and most outspoken critics of standardized testing which measure your access to resources” and were meant to “rank, sort and label so as to prove that Black people were lesser.”

Related topics included the growth of the opt out movement, particularly among black and brown communities; student and teacher actions at Hagopian’s own Seattle school which led to the policy changes; and the need to alter the “school-to-grave” pipeline as outlined in a current editorial in Rethinking Schools.

Track 2 (8:20) below —

The Education Town Hall broadcasts from Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC,

Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern

on We Act Radio. Listen live via TuneIn.

Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

Youth and Black Lives Matter

Youth are at the heart of #BlackLivesMatter, both as those most directly affected by the “School-to-Grave” pipeline and as organizers within the movement. Black Student Lives Matter argues that now is the time for the following:

1. social justice, anti-racist curriculum that gives students the historical grounding, literacy skills, and space to explore the emotional intensity of feelings around the murder of Black youth by police….

2. [supporting] conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement outside the classroom, in school forums or school clubs….

3. rais[ing] the Black Lives Matter movement with other teachers at our schools and in our unions….
— “Black Student Lives Matter

In addition, the editorial says, #BlackLivesMatter means more than ending police violence; other issues include

    • Stop closing schools in Black neighborhoods.
    • Fund schools equitably.
    • Support African American studies programs and substantive multicultural curriculum.


Rethinking Schools and Jesse Hagopian


Jesse Hagopian teaches history at Seattle’s Garfield High School. He is a founding member of the Social Equality Educators and a contributing author to Education and Capitalism: Struggles for Learning and Liberation and 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History. He edited More than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing (Chicago: Haymarket, 2014 — see also Testocracy). And he serves as Editorial Advocate for Rethinking Schools and blogs at I Am An Educator

Rethinking Schools began as a local effort in Milwaukee, WI, in 1985. It is now a national nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization dedicated to sustaining and strengthening public education through social justice teaching and education activism. Its magazine, books, and other resources promote equity and racial justice in the classroom.

Visit Rethinking Schools On-Line to learn more.


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