A group of teachers in Seattle is refusing to administer their district’s quarterly academic benchmark. On the one hand this is awesome on the other hand this is truly, deeply awesome. I believe, along with these protesting teachers, that there is a place for standardized testing. However, it feels horrible to administer an exam you believe to be a waste of your students’ time. Additionally, when you add up the amount of time our students spend taking official state exams, district internal assessments, actual exams for our courses, various placement exams, field tests, College Board exams, IB exams, etc. etc. it is truly breathtaking.
This story is incredibly exciting on a number of levels. Several months ago, I speculated that solving the education crisis in our country would involve a grassroots teachers effort much like the Civil Rights movement. I wrote:
So colleagues, I ask you: what does it look like for us to remain in our seat at the front of the bus? What does it look like for us to boycott an unjust system? What does it look like for us to carefully prepare to be non-violent when we are attacked by police and dogs so that the rest of the country will be appalled at the resulting images they see on the nightly news?
Does it look like refusing to give ridiculous exams? Maybe this is the beginning? I am inspired by a group of teachers taking their outrage beyond the teacher’s lounge by civilly articulating their grievances (see below) and actually taking action.
At any rate, I hope to God there comes a time when I can stand behind an articulate colleague, official school lanyard in place around my neck, cross my arms, and refuse to comply with an unjust system. What other problems could be tackled via whole-staff solidarity?