Thursday, January 7, 2016

BK Nation Forum Defuses Stereotypes About Opt Out as a "White Movement"



The BK Nation Forum on Testing and the Opt Out Movement,held at Judson Memorial Church in lower Manhattan last night, represented a powerful challenge to education policy makers who claim testing is a civil rights measure and that the opt out movement is strictly a white middle class initative
Of the 60 plus people in the audience, at least 70 percent were people of color, with the majority being African American, and over half the group was under 40 years of age.
Although the panel was excellent, including people like Jamaal BowmanAixa RodriguezJesse Turner and Shamma Dee, the audience's commentary and participation made the evening special. Anybody who thinks that Reform policies such as testing, school closings and the Common Core Curriculum are popular in Black and Latino communities needed to be in that room. Parent after parent, teacher after teacher, administrator after administrator spoke eloquently about how excessive testing and culturally insensitive curricula were making students in their communities hate school. Equally harrowing were stories about how excessive scripting and humiliating visits were making the best teachers in high poverty communities leave their jobs.
What came across loud and clear was that a climate of fear emanating from city, state and federal policies,, especially school closings and receivership, was creating a toxic atmosphere in many schools in Black and Latino Communities,
What people called for was less testing at all levels, the rewriting of curriculum to include the experience of students in their communities, more portfolio schools exempt from state tests, and adequate funding of schools to reduce class size and make sure students have full access to science, technology, the arts and sports.
Anyone who attended this meeting could not fail to be moved by the sense that the entire Reform Movement had made things WORSE, not better for students of color, and that testing and scripted curriculum had become a nightmare for students, parents and teachers in the communities represented in that room
I think everyone at this amazing event felt empowered to know that they were not alone, that many other people around the city shared their concerns and were ready to WAGE WAR to see that all children got the education they deserved.
A Huge thanks must be given to Carla Cherry and Kevin Powell for organizing this event, and for everyone who attended and helped make it such an inspiring experience,

7 comments:

Fred Smith said...

An apt and perfect summation of last night's event and the indomitable spirit of We, the People, in that room--seeking justice for all. Thank you for capturing what may well be an historic turning point.

Despite the understandable fear and confusion about opting out brought down on parents by NYSED and DOE and the active non-support of the UFT as it watches its members being silenced and de-professionalized, we must go forward in the next three months to spread the word to all parts of the City that we will no longer go along with testing that has been the oppressive engine driving inequity in public school education.

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