Seattle Teachers Spark Rebuke of School Standardization and Privatization
National Day of Action in support of Seattle teachers' protest prompts cross-country actions
Teachers, parents, students and other supporters cross-country declared "enough is enough" Wednesday as they joined in the National Day of Action and the growing tide of support for the Seattle teachers' standardized test boycott.
The Day of Action is the culmination of a growing protest begun at Seattle's Garfield High School against the district-mandated Measure of Academic Progress, known as the MAP test, which the teachers say is deeply flawed and hijacks essential classroom time and resources. The MAP test is not exclusive to Seattle as it is annually administered to millions of students across the country.
Calling Wednesday's demonstrations—and the greater boycott—"the new face of teacher unionism," National Education Association President, Dennis Van Roekel, writes in an op-ed that the Garfield teachers' "brave" boycott has "focused attention on a long-simmering national issue." He adds:
A growing number of teacher evaluation systems are focused exclusively on using tests to measure student growth or achievement. Even worse, administrators and education officials nationwide are employing evaluation systems with little input from educators or teacher organizations[...]
Educators are fed up with flawed accountability measures, and the new face of teacher unionism has its eyes fixed on changing the current culture of standardized testing mania. In a dramatic way, Seattle teachers and others are driving the national conversation on professional issues and school reform.
"This could be a critical moment in education, with the reform movement facing a serious challenge," added Seattle Weekly blogger Nina Shapiro.
Across the country, groups took action. The Berkeley, Calif. teachers union held a rally and speak out at Berkeley High and in Chicago, anti high-stakes testing coalition More Than A Score petitioned at 30 local schools.
Rochester, NY supporters are rallying at the “State of the Schools” address that is taking place on the same day. "We hope to reach out to others in the community who support the Garfield High Teachers [to] build local allies" they write, in the fight to "sustain the struggle against the standardization and privatization of our children's education."
Fellow educators, parents, students and other supporters joined in the chorus online. The California Teachers Association wrote on twitter (#scrapthemap), "We share deep concerns about the overemphasis on standardized tests as an indicator of student achievement," adding:
The teachers at Garfield and Ballard High Schools and the Seattle Education Association are speaking truth to power. #ScrapTheMap
— CTA (@CATeachersAssoc) February 6, 2013
A number shared pictures of themselves holding signs or wearing red in solidarity with the boycotting teachers.
— NWTA Union (@NWTA_Union) February 6, 2013