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tv   Book Discussion on More than a Score  CSPAN  April 9, 2015 8:00pm-8:59pm EDT

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the congress congress continuing on their two-week spring recess this week we are featuring booktv in primetime. up next on booktv in primetime sub five editor of "more than a score" and a history teacher at
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garfield high school in seattle takes a critical look at standardized testing. this is about an hour, 20 minutes. [applause] >> thank you. welcome everybody for braving the elements in making it up here. my name is brian jones. i'm an educator and activist in new york city and as jason said i'm going to moderate our event to just say a few words about the event and we will kick about. i will introduce our panel of some of them kick it off and we will have discussion after that. we are here, no doubt you understand for a very important reason. a, to mourn the decision, the fateful decision to not run marshawn lynch on the one-yard line last night he. [laughter] v to protect jesse hagopian from future pepper spray incident. c to talk to pineapples.
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or d to celebrate the launch of this book "more than a score" the new uprising against high-stakes testing. now obviously c is a distractor question. there's nothing relevant they're obviously so you can eliminate that one right off the bat but a a b are possible. either of those acts would make sense and if you're confused many the things i have said just google them and they will make sense to shirley. in all seriousness we all know probably everybody in this round has taken a test, standardized test even at one point or another in your life are you test are nothing new. they have been around around for along a long time but it seems we are living in the moment where the stakes attached to tests have never been higher. not only to standardized tests determine a child's future in many places but they can determine the future of the teacher working with that child. they can determine the future of principals and administrators. the guidance counselor the gym
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teacher the music teacher in the art teacher. everybody has spent sometimes the whole school to be bound up with the results of a test or even the fate of whole districts. what's interesting about this moment is that trend towards raising the stakes higher and higher -- can you hear me? has finally been confronted by a movement and perhaps it's auspicious we are meeting on february 2. every first, 1960 was one for college students in north carolina sat in and direct action in 1960 that sparked a whole new era in the civil rights movement, and mass civil disobedience era. here we are talking about civil disobedience, talking about people refusing to take a test. students, young people refusing to take a test that they are told by everyone in charge that
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they are supposed to take. in some cases we are talking about parents refusing to allow their children to take a test. just opting out it's called or we are talking about very courageous teachers risking their jobs in some cases to refuse to administer standardized tests. all of those risky behaviors refusing to do what you are supposed to do in taking direct action to stop the standardized test machine read all of those things are on the rise and this book capture stories not just by the four by the four of us but i haven't counted how many many people have contributed to this book but many stories from across the country first-person stories of students, parents and teachers who have been taking these actions and trying to figure out where to go from here. towards that end we have a fantastic panel for you. let me introduce the mall and asked him to save some room opening remarks. first first up we will hear from dao x. tran.
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dao as a parent of an elementary school. he she is the coeditor of the book 101 changemakers rebels and radicals who have change u.s. history. dare i say she is one of them. [laughter] she is working on a world history teacher project right now among other things and she was on her child's pta in the 2013/14 school year. after dao will be diane ravitch historian and professor emeritus emeritus. not emeritus. sorry diane. [laughter] scratch that from the video. professor at new york university. diane was the former u.s. assistant secretary of education and the author of the book reign of error the hopes of privatization of the danger to america's public schools. and lastly we will hear from jesse hagopian. sub by visit teacher of history
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at garfield high school in seattle and the co-director. advisor to the black student union at that high school. he was in 2013 the winner of the secondary teacher of the year by the education association of arts and sciences and most importantly for our purposes was the leader or one of the leading figures in the 2013 math test boycott. that was national news. [applause] and before we start off with dao i would be remiss if we did not acknowledge there are other testers sisters in the audience anchor jupiters to the beauprez somebody who testified in the u.s. senate gina lee an elementary schoolteacher and parent and in the upper deck over their rosy and lee giles teachers at rustic heights who led a protest -- last year.
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c rachel ailes is here and what other bulldogs? and riosa roe from garfield high school. these were two of the leaders of a math test boycott. c fantastic. welcome all. dao tell us your story of the boycott at your school. >> my daughter is seven now but in new york city if you want to send your child to a public school you have to start thinking about and looking for a school when they are like three. so we started looking for a school for her and i live in the south bronx and was committed to sending her to a public school. i wanted to send her to our neighborhood school which was right on the block which was a beautiful idea. send your kid a amok with him to school however when i went i
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actually put her in a school i was to say the least super disappointed because basically school, her first school experience was basically one of massive amounts of homework, sitting at a desk listening to a teacher talk at the front for a 15 minute blocks of time. no recess. if they were good at the end of the day they would get to do choice time which to me was what most of the school day should've consisted of which was playing which is how i think young kids actually learn. so it was not a great experience for her. she was super sad. she would wake up every morning and say that her stomach hurt, that she fell sick and it was clear to me that there was something going on that i needed to address.
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and i think what i came to understand was that it wasn't just her classroom or her particular teacher. they were actually really lovely. her teacher was super sweet but felt like she was doing what parents expected and the school district expected and the school expected which was to prepare our children to take the standardized tests. so therefore they structured the day in a way that was completely inappropriate for any kind of joy, any kind of solid basis in wanting to go to school and/or learning anything in school. there was no play, there was no imagination and there was no hands on the experiential learning instead of learning how to count by say counting buttons they were learning how to count by counting stars on a page which is a very different experience and completely ineffective because you get kids
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who then get frustrated that they are not smart or they are not doing what all these grown-ups who care about them are expecting that they should be able to do. so we basically went through that for a year and felt like we had to try something different. we looked for different school and we were able to find an amazing school which was not in her neighborhood called castle bridge located in washington heights. it's a dual language english spanish progressive school which was completely based and also a public school thankfully completely based on the idea of hands-on arts infused music music-based joyful learning. we were super super excited to get her in their city can imagine how i felt at the beginning of her second year her second year when we were told cocoa by the way she is
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going to come along with the other kindergartners through second-graders, have to take a standardized test and it's not to measure what they know or what they are learning but actually to score and rank and evaluate her teachers. i was shocked. we have never been told way the city school district or by the states, by the state school administration that they were going to have to do this test. and i tried to find out what was going on. there was no information. the only thing i found was in an article in "the new york times" from a summer previous that said these tests may be coming. eventually i figured it out that it's a complicated thing that happened because basically the state have to figure out a way
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to measure and evaluate teachers and they decided the best way to do that was to impart views the scores of very young children to do that. the word got out that basically a number of schools including the school where my daughter goes 30 some schools in the city that were too new to have kids who were taking the state tests from third grade up couldn't use those scores so they were going to test the very but once some of whom to be frank couldn't even hold a pencil. so the idea that they were going to be taking a test when they would have to bubble in something really made no sense at all. some of his parents put ourselves in our kids shoes and i will just take a read a section from the book because i think it's a helpful way to think about it. usually we spend our time playing and learning how to take care of ourselves and our friends the one they are teacher sits down and puts a test book with in front of us. it has saved 27 multiple-choice
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doubling math problems from which you will read aloud and asked us to fill in the bubble for the right answer. nevermind some of us haven't had much experience holding a pencil nevermind some of us haven't yet learned how to read, nevermind we may not recognize numbers yet to help us locate which numbers we are to answer our teacher will prompt us to find the image of a cat or the eyes. this is something the test makers put on the test because they recognized a lot of the littlest kids cannot yet read. teachers can't help us if we are confused and we can't work together as we are usually encouraged to do. how odd. and if we don't speak or understand much english too bad. if we have learning challenges or disabilities, too bad. we will actually get her time to sit in front of the testing get more frustrated, more stressed and more upset about this to do what? to help our teacher understand what we know and are able to do
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with math? no to make make sure they that we give me the services and support? no. for parents i think if the purpose of the tests were actually to help our children learn i think most of us would probably be down with that. we want to know how her kids are doing. we want to know if they are going to be able to learn to read and to work with numbers but as it turns out these tests are not about our children's learning at all. i think we have an old-fashioned way and i think a lot of the teachers actually helped us to understand this, but there is a very good way of knowing whether they know that stuff which is just by asking them for asking their teachers who after all spend the majority of their days with them explaining, exploring supporting and observing. i don't think pearson incorporated or discovery incorporated trademark can have much insight into children's learning more than their
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teachers. so i had a couple of the other parents at the school decided that not only was it important for us to not have our children take the test but we were concerned about our whole school and what it would have done to the culture of our whole school and beyond that we were concerned about all the other schools that were being made to take this test. we thought the best and strongest thing we could do was organize together to take a stand that was very public and i don't know, wholesale you might say. in the end we were able to organize all but three or four families to send an official form saying they did not want their children to take the test. [applause] i think i will just say it's a good lesson if you are going to do something kind of illegal to do it with a lot of people. because what ended up happening was her turn to pill said i can
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hardly give a test that would be statistically invalid. how can you rank and score a teacher and the basis of one or two kids test scores? it really didn't make any sense and in fact the state education department acknowledged it is not so sensible to have kindergartners take tests and they scrapped that idea. [applause] unfortunately not many schools know that. i know that this year some schools went ahead and gave those tests anyway which is i think terrell tragedy. all the more reason why we have to be out there and say to people you know parents have such an important role to play. we are also the caretakers of our children's education and they can't fire us. [applause] >> next up dr. diane ravitch.
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[applause] >> thank you. i'm thrilled to be here to celebrate jesse's book in the book that so many people contribute it to but i would be remiss if i did not acknowledge the presence of mayor de blasio and his wife sure lane. [applause] i also can't help but say a year before the mayoral election started one of the newspapers was doing a round up and said what do you think the next mayor should do an education my proposal was the next mayor should declare a three-year moratorium on standardized testing. [applause] i think it's important to understand that we are in an unprecedented time in american history. we have never had the federal government up until no child left behind passed in 2001 tell the whole country have the u.s.
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department of education take control and say when and how children can be tested and then to punish schools and teachers who didn't measure up to what the federal government thought was appropriate. no child left behind says by the year 2014 100% of children will be proficient in me reading and math by standardized tests. it's 2015 and we didn't make it. so arne duncan gets out waivers and is waivers say what you don't have to be subject to the 100% rule but what you do have to do is be subject to my rules and my rules are you have to evaluate teachers by the test scores other students. you have to open more charter schools. you must adopt common core. you you must does come a must that, you must collect data and he actually took the waiver away from a state of washington because the legislature refused to go along with the teacher valuation peace and therefore
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every school in the entire state of washington is a failing school and had to so inform the parents. so we live in an unprecedented time not only because we have this crazy law no child left behind which should've been reauthorized and thrown in the ash heap eight years ago but instead the obama administration added race to the top which is a new iteration of no child left behind making the punishment more severe because it took us on punishing schools. race to the top focuses on labeling and punishing teachers. many teachers have been fired and over the past, just read the statistics in an article by leo casey who some of you may know. leo said that 4000 public schools have been closed since 2008. you know rahm emanuel close 50 public schools in one day. that is has never happened before. we are not talking about continuity with the past. we are talking about radical
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extreme break with the past. a direct attack on public education. the attack is coordinated. it starts with making test scores the most important thing in the world which contributes to the narrative that public education is broken. public education is failing. we are falling behind the other nations of the world and soon estonia will invade us and take over because we have higher test scores. you'll never hear any of the people who talk about this mention japan which is headed higher test scores than us for the past 50 years has been in a deep recession for years. the test scores of 15-year-olds have nothing to do with the economic productivity of the nation five, 10 or 20 years hence. [applause] but what is really scary is the narrative of failing public schools is being hyped and ratcheted up to the common core
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because the tests are even harder than those that preceded them so in new york whereas we usually have 80% of the kids passing state test now we have 70% failing. we have 97% of the english language -- english language learners failing. we have more than 80% of the children of color failing. this is all an artifact. this is is pearson in the state education department of board of regents making the decision in advance that they want 70% of the kids to fail and saying it was a validation of their civil rights. excuse me i don't understand the logic there. when you look at what's happening in washington and gia testified brilliantly before the the -- committee. there's a bipartisan coalition that was testing it and kids are not able to jump over a four-foot par we should raise
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the bar to 6 feet and watch more of them fail. there is this bipartisan coalition that thinks testing is essential to the future survival of our nation. it's ridiculous. i could go on with explanations why but i think you know them all. you understand what matters most is not your ability to pick the right bubble but your ability to think for yourself and to ask the questions, not give the right answer. to be able to take risks and what we are doing to children for 13 years in some cases testing now is in pre-k. when i heard the description of what is happening at castle bridge i kept thinking about districts where kids in pre-k are taking tests. i don't know how. i don't know how they do that on computers. kids don't know how to keyboard when they are three in four years old and their kindergartners taking testing in florida there was a child and hospice dying he was forced to take a test.
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what is this madness that has overtaken our society with standardized testing? i am possibly the oldest person in the room and i went to school when there were no standardized tests. the only standardized test i ever took was the s.a.t. and there was no test prep for it. you just took it and they said that's your score. now the s.a.t. is determined by who can pay the most for tutors. so it turns out the s.a.t. it he a.c.t. and every test is a measure of family income. and if you haven't seen it plan a veneer has a new book called the tyranny of a meritocracy where she makes this case clearly where some of us have seen it argued for years when you look at any of those scores you can correlate family income without fail. the wealthiest are at the top and the porsche at the bottom. what the test do is to redistribute privilege. the bottom line as they say we
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are unprecedented moment in history. it means we are in a place where we have all the powers that be locked up in favor of a really terrible regime. people who are the most powerful don't think very much about it. as he watched and listened to those senators talking about and c.o.p. you realize they don't know by much about schools. they probably haven't been in school since they were a student. and yet they are making these policies that strangle her children and in my case grandchildren. what can we do? asked the question all the time what can we do? the only thing we can do is to disobey. [applause] there's something much older than testing in our society called civil disobedience. i think when the day comes when the grown-ups learn to be as creative as the young people in resisting testing testing things will
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begin to change. 5000 students walked out in colorado and would not take the test. [applause] we have example of seattle teachers and i know it's hard for teachers because their job is on the line but parents can opt out. they can opt out and they can do so even when it's not legal to do so because it's their children. if you are the only one that opts out you are going to be in trouble and they will do something to threaten you or your child but the whole school opts out they can't do anything. so what is needed today is the movement that jesse's book will help to build and that reflects a willingness to say the powers that be will not listen. things will change as people take action. thank you. [applause]
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>> let me stand so i can see everybody in the back and just say that this is a great honor to be with these contributors to the book here today and to have other tragedies here in the audience and people who have fought in this struggle for a long time and we are finally beginning see some incredible victories that i think are changing this narrative that diane laid out so clearly. the importance of this work to me really hit home this year because i became the father of a public school student. my son entered kindergarten this year so i got a whole different perspective on this. in fact he entered a school that just got changed to be an international school and have a bilingual program with so they had a ribbon cutting ceremony. had a wonderful banner and all these different cultural events
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and all the students in elementary school came out to the front lawn and were sat down. there's a whole bunch of politicians that came to speak at my sons school. principal gave an amazing speech about what this new school meant a different school board members and then the governor's education aid came. here she is addressing my kindergartner here and the other students in the school and she says i want to congratulate you all for making the choice to come to the school because you are now getting ready to compete in the global economy. [laughter] cheers did not erupt from the fourth grade section. i was like yes. my son can keep that kid down in china. my son will be ready to beat
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down that kid in mexico. thank goodness for this new school. but this is their vision for the purpose of public education. it's sick. i want to read for you in my research for the book, i came across this quote from the common core web site. you should go on the common core web site and read. don't take our words for it. go and listen to the proponents of common core and find out why they say this new standardized standards and assessments are so needed. this quote came up. from edward the rest junior chairman and ceo of state farm insurance company and he says quote state-by-state adoption of these standards is an important step toward maintaining our country's competitive edge with a skilled and prepared workforce. the business community will be better prepared to face the
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challenges of the international marketplace. education isn't about collaboration and critical thinking. it's not about helping our kids learn how to interact better with each other. it's about these international local corporations being able to compete with one another. that's the fundamental problem that is happening with the standardization movement and the reason why the struggle at garfield high school erupted i think when it did. i think that testing became so overbearing. my brave colleagues especially the ones in the testing subjects of reading and math and special education in english language learners voted unanimously to refuse to administer a deeply flawed exam. ..
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every threat only emboldens our faculty to say you're going to end up on the wrong side of excite we are fighting for public education. [applause] i just want to share a couple quick parts from the book. what erupted at garfield led to
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walkouts of students, just a week later, students in portland oregon walked out refused to take the oaks test and the president of the portland teachersdown un -- teacher's union, and it workedded with the students and it's called the education spring. we're in the largest revolt against high-stakes testing in u.s. history. we had 60,000 errantses opt their kid oust tests here in new york state. the walkout that diane said is the largest walkout in u.s. history of high stakes testing in colorado and it'sen incredible struggle, and i want to share a couple of the best just little stories that came up in the collection of this book. this one is from providence. student union. they wrote, passersbuy jumped
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at a crowd of young people turned the corner of kennedy plaza. green skins shining, sunken eyes stared, and torn, blood-spattered clothes dragged as the shul shuffled down the street. that's young men and women gathered at the entrance of the rhode island deposit of education and thesesome bees showed they had brains. one demonstrator stepped forward with a megaphone, we're here to protest the use of high stack standardized testing and the zombie identifying effect on our state's young people. those students got the testers to take the test. let's get the lawyers, the doctors, professionals, to take
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this test and then they held a press conference to release the results. 60% of these professionals failed the test. but yet this is going to be the are bit arbiter ol' -- of who will be successful in our society. it's just as asinine. in chicago, a parent and preschool teacher wrote this: on april 17th 2013, parents, children and early childhood educators arrived at the chicago public schools headquarterses early. we entered the main lobby and spread out our blankets on the linoleum tiled floor. the department of education. i propped up a few of the hand-made picket signs designed by a preschool teacher. who had to work and couldn't join us but wanted her voice to be health we're more than a score, play us how we learn.
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play is every child's human right. we were approached bay member of the security personnel who inquired about what we were doing. we're playing. was our reply. he whole you, you could dot that sneer at this point more and more parents and children trickled in. julie kept the security guard busy with questions. who into shoo we talk to? the rest welcomed the arriving families with. art supplies desup clothes, toys, as we began to stake out more space. [applause] >> and so there's so many more stories i wish i could share with you. of just creative forms of resistance to show what education should be about and today i have the honor, i think, of participating in one of the
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most important forms of resistance to high-stakes standardized test which is going to the new york consortium schools -- [applause] >> absolutely. people are applauding because these schools have a waiver and don't give the state tests, and instead they have a performance-based assessment which i think is such an important alternative to be advocating for as we build this movement. right? when you get your ph.d at that level they actually want you to be able to think. right? so instead of filling in bubbles, you develop a dissertation. you have a thesis. you work with an adviser. you collect evidence. if evidence doesn't spurt your thesis you have to revise your thesis and at the end you present your thesis and defend your dissir certain addition and middle school students are doing this, through high school
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in every subject. they make it developmentally appropriate, and we find out when you put educators in charge of education, and of assessment you can come up with incredible alternatives and it's amazing to know that the new york consortium schools have higher graduation rates. public schools who actually have more special needs students than the general public school population, and yet have higher graduation rates and also higher graduation rates for students of color, best are college attendance rates, better numbers of students staying in college. this is an incredible vision they're building, and i will just -- i want to end by saying that i think that we face incredible challenges in our world today that education has to have something to say about. we have to re-purpose and re-claim the purpose of education, because right now there are more black men behind
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bars than -- or on probation or parole than were slaves on plantations in 1850. we have a rampant rape culture our society that is flourishing on college campuses where one in four women report having faced sexual assault at some time in their life. we have the worst economic inequality in u.s. history. you have 85 people who have as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion people on the planet. we have these social catastrophes. perhaps none of which is serious as climate change because we know if the climate races three degrees it could be iranway change that we cannot reverse and human life won't be supported on our planet, and none of those problems can be solved with a b., c d
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thinking. we actually have to redesign our education system to empower our students to become leaders, to develop civic courage, to know how to co will be operate with each other to solve real problems we fait face in our sew see if if we're going survive as human beings on this planet. those are the real stakes that we're up against, and that's why i'm proud to be in the fight with you all. thank you. [applause] >> that was fantastic. thank you. we have just a little bit of time for some discussion before we have -- we have a book-signing right over there. you can get your book signed.
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just stick around to talk to the authors and connect and help build the movement. for now, i'd like too hear from you a few more thoughts. one of the big arguments in favor of standardized testing it it's a measure of accountability and transparency. and how do we counter that argue; which is the principle thing? they say that teachers who don't want to give the tests are trying to avoid any responsibility. trying to avoid accountability they don't want their feet to be held to the fire if their students aren't doing well. what do we say to that? >> the first thing i would say is where is the accountability for the ceos who sabotage the global economy? right. we are for accountability. but i think it first should be applied evenly, through society and the other thing is, we see a much better accountability system right here in new york with the new york consortium
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schools, having better outcomes for students of color, and for the students in general. and so i think that is a smoke screen. i think that accountability argument is really about busting up teacher unions really about vilifying teachers and labeling them the problem with public education, to hide the fact they're systematically underfunding schools, denying the kids that need the most resources to succeed and achieve. >> i would say brian there's nothing less transparent than standardized testing. and there's also -- the accountability attached to it is usually wrong. for instance, with the tests given as part of the common core, and with a lot of other tennessee, standardized tests as well teachers are not allowed to see the questions, and afterwards the grades come in when the student is no longer in the same classroom, and the
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teacher -- the new teacher doesn't know the children, and they don't get to see the test either. so they learn nothing from the test. the purpose of a test should be diagnostic. when you go to a doctor you want the doctor to tell you what your temperature was you. don't want him to say i'll let you know six months from now and i'll let you know but it will just be comparing you to other people. and not you in particular. something like that. but if a teacher just says -- learns the child is a 4-3, 2 1 that's not accountability and there's no transparency because you can't -- they don't want to release the questions, and i think the reason they don't want to release them is because if they did people would be picking them apart and saying, this is ridiculous. there are two right answer. there's no right answer. the question is misleading. and in fact, i think that i recently read some of the testmakers are saying it's actually the park test which new york may be testing -- may be taking.
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the park test the instructions say they're going to have answers that are plausible but incorrect. that means they're going to be tricky and deceptive, and the really thoughtful child may ponder and ponder and choose the plausible answer that thismaker considers incorrect, but where you could probably have a very good discussion about what really is the right answer. and the fact is the standardized test is not a good form of accountability, there is only one purpose to standardized testing, it's to say we don't trust teachers. the teachers' judgments are not worthy, because i think back to before the era of standardized testing -- we have always had a little built but never high stakes. the idea was you could trust teachers'. if you wanted to know how the student was doing, you would go in and ask the teacher elm teacher knows i if the child can read. they see the child every day.
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why would you expect the test to tell you more than the teacher knows? the fact is we already havelet odd conditionability -- accountability today means punish: we know what we need to know through nape. nape does the sampling tests, releases results, in reading and math, for every state, every other year. so if you want to compare missouri to oklahoma or mississippi to massachusetts it's there in nape. you don't need to do all this individual student testing to find out. nape disaggregates the scores by race gender english language learners disability et cetera. we don't need additional tests to find out what we already fro knock nape, and nape will tell us the kid's come from advantaged homes have higher scores than the kids who live in poverty. this is nothing new. why do we need to keep doing it. >> speaking of that issue one of the things that people will say to disparage the movement
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against standardized testing will say it's something that has taken hold among certain type of parents, prodominantly white, middle class parents, not working class parents and not parents of color. what do you say to that? >> the first thing i would say, remind people of arnie duncan making that very argument, saying that those who are against the common core testing are white suburban moms, managing to basically dispager -- disparage everybody in the movement. look at this panel. look at who wrote for this book. and right up here are three people of color that are helping to lead this movement. right? and there's many other leaders of color that i think -- first off, we need to recognize. people like karen lewis in chicago, who are fighting back. [applause] so there's an important
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leadership of color that is helping to lead this movement i also think that it is true thattedit needs to deepen and broaden its roots in communities of color as well, and i think it's important for the opt out movement the boycott movement, to understand the role that these tests play in maintaining institutional racism and take up this fight as an antiracist struggle. i you've know the history of standardized testing, you know these tests first entered the public schools through the eugenics movement. openly proud white supremacists who wanted to show that black people were beyond civilization, and so people like carl bringham from princeton who designeds the s.a.t. tests was one of the most famous eugenicists in the nation, and when you understand these tests came out of that, what sense does it make that these tests are the key to closing the achievement gap like
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we hear in the rhetoric from the corporate education reformers? and so our movement against high-stakes testing needs to take up explicitly an antiracist struggle that will broaden the movements to other communities communities and that mind joining the "black lives matter" and we also want an education fit for our kids that is culturally relevant and antiracist. [applause] >> is it okay if i just say something real quick about that. >> go ahead. >> it is important to recognize, i've spoken to a lot of parents of color, when we did our campaign our school is at least half latino and african-american. if not more actually. and a good number of those
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people also recent immigrants who don't speak english and so in some ways it was about breaking through the mythology built up around the tests that says here is your ticket to a fair playing field. that's how it is put out there. that's what it is. but in fact it is the complete opposite, and i think really exposing that for what it is and saying, you know what? when they say, here's the standard your child to hit you should hit it but we're not going to support you or your teachers in helping your child to get there. your child came to the united states not speaking english. this is for high school students this exempt eight months later they're expected to take a test, reading in english. full paragraphs, comprehension you know to me that is just not unfair. that's downright abusive. what are you saying to kids who can't actually comprehend what
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is printed? imagine if you had to go and take a test in vietnamese. i'm sure that all of us would -- maybe except me -- would fail. really exposing how the testmakers and the whole culture around testing has been able to steal the language of our civil rights movement and say this is going to help end racism. no it's the opposite. it's going to help entrench it. that's why we really have to take a stand against and it expose it for what it is. [applause] >> final question. one theme in the book is the transformative nature of the experience of going through a boycott, that at garfield castlebridge issue around the country peopled find themselves and their communities and schools transformed by the process of this and dianne,
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know you speak everywhere and have a feel for the movement nationally. what is happening to people who take this leap, who decide to challenge these tests? >> i'm sure it must be incredibly empowering, and i think that -- i'm knock the person to answer this because i've never boycotted a test nor led a boycott, but i encourage people to opt out. and i have to add in terms of the last discussion, part of the challenge of this monolith we face the power is that 19 civil rights groups signed a joint statement endorsing annual high-stakes testing and asking that it be retained in the new version of "no child left behind," and i communicate -- i had an exchange with people at the naacp legal defense fund and i totally don't understand why 19 groups did this. i could make guesses but they
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wouldn't be informed guests. its just shows -- guesses but it shows the importance of building the movement from below. even the people who run these organizations are so far remote from what is happening in schools and families and children, that it is -- the power has to be in the hands of parents and teachers and students, because that's where the change is going to come from. >> really quickly, one thing we found out in organizing with the parents at my school is that when i started asking parents, what do you want for your child's education? how do you think they would learn best? there was a little bit of debate. a lot of parents came from a fairly traditional or industrial model of schooling themselves and so we're a little bit maybe
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unsure if this more free form kind of play would be the best thing. but we had discussions about it and we really tried to hash it out. and one of the things that i think became clear was i said look at the models of the best education that we have in this country, which you have to pay for, let's be honest, and who sends their kids to those schools? and why do they send those kids to their those schools? they don't take the tests. they don't even worry about it. you go to a tour -- and i did this. i went to some tours for private schools inside new york city and one of the first things they say as a selling point is you know common core standardized state tests we don't do them. so i think we started to say to our parents, if it's good enough for arnie duncan or whomever president obama, maybe it's got enough for our kids too. it's what we deserve. [applause]
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>> i just want to speak to the question of the transformative nature of the struggle. i think garfield high school is a really exciting place to teach because of the courage of the teachers there that transformed the culture and that collective refusal emboldened an entire staff. so this year the superintendent announced we were going to lose a teacher. they were going cut a teacher at garfield high school nine weeks into the school year, right after kid have already done -- put all the work into a class. it was going leave 150 students without a class, and some of those students needed that class to graduate. so it would put their graduation in jeopardy. and we held a staff meeting to figure out what to do about this problem, and i said, we got to do something about this. we should go and rally up the school board and tell them about how we can't lose this teacher and another teacher said that's
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not going to do anything. let's just walk out. oh, yeah. that's a good idea. and the entire building emptied of all the students and teachers who said this is outrageous. we're not going to stand for this. and they said, oh yeah just kidding. we weren't planning on doing that. we saved our teacher and the black student union at garfield now is just won the city's human rights award for leading a march -- first marching to the precinct demanding that black lives matter, and then leading a walkout the day after there was no indictment of darren wilson and they're becoming leaders not just at the school but for the entire city, and defining what black lives matter means and it's all part of the growing
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struggle. and i want to say one last thing about the transformative nature of these struggles. i want to just end by reading a quick passage. there's a chapter in here you should not miss which is by a young woman named amber cudlow who wasn't to a school here in new york state, and she was the school's valedictorian and she -- because she had the best grades and the highest test scores she was told by the principal she had to give the graduation speech for the school, and she said, absolutely not. i don't have anything to say. i'm not a good public speaker. i'm not going to give the speech. and the principal said, it's not that you don't have to it's just you would be bringing shame to your family and the whole school for breaking our tradition of having the valedictorian -- finally, he basically forces her to give a speech. at the graduation. and so i printed her speech in
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the book, and she titled the speech -- this is in the program handed out to everyone in the audience. she title he speech, "51a45767. the feign number of the state representative pushing the high stakes testing on the -- right? and then since she had to give the speech, here's a quick excerpt from what he said. she said: as for the argument that these assessments are challenging our students more sure, that's true. it's a challenge to fit the same amount of material into one year with more exams. it's challenge to memorize loads of facts and time for the next team. it's also a challenge to eat other teaspoon of cinnamon in one bite without choke 'but what are you really play-ing? at this point i'd like to throw a slightly relevant quote by a famous person into the mix to make my speech seem more
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legitimate. that appears to be how these things work. so albert einstein once said everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. i we can't judge someone's intelligence by how well he does in a small group of isolated classes. everyone learned differently so education is not something that can be successfully standardized. anyway, theirs why i tried so hard to get out of this speech. not because i don't respect all of you. i do. it's just that val rick tier -- valedictorian is a label and i don't like what it stands for. i'm not the parteddest person in theclass i'm good at memorizing things but that's not to use outside of the standardized world outfield high school, and i'm pretty sure a lot of you have been more successful than i was unless your standard nor judging success is a scantron
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sheet. [applause] to me those words were particularly meaningful as somebody who pent my whole life being humiliated by these tests, who i mutate wasn't intelligent for most of my life, and to see someone who aced this and knew that this was a scam meant a lot to me, and you can see how this -- these struggles are transforming people all over the country, and i think it's time to get on the right side of history, and help build this movement. [applause] >> another round of applause to our panelists. thank you for coming out. please pick up a copy on the way out and sign the signup sheet.
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thank you >> this is booktv in primetime. a quick reminder that every weekend, booktv features 48 hours of nonfiction books starting saturday morning at 58 8:00 eastern. >> with congress on their two-week spring resist this week booktv and primetime continues friday night with ann cure presentations of our in depth program. at 8:00 walter isaacson, author of several books, including einstein benjamin franklin, steve jobs kissinger, and the innovators takes viewer questions for three hours. then at 11:00, ronald kessler on his books his life and career, and responds to viewer questions. that all starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> here some of


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