Xian Franzinger Barrett argues that accountability without equity means more inequity…
Chicago teacher Xian Barrett.
EduShyster: OK—I need you to set me straight here. Is ensuring that we continue to test kids in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is striking a blow against too much testing in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is civil rights actually the civil rights issue of our time?
Xian Franzinger Barrett: The people who are talking about this genuinely on both sides are talking about the same thing, it’s just that the problem they’re trying to address is pervasive and terrible. This idea that we’re unseen and unheard unless we’re measured has a basis in history and reality, so I think it’s important that we don’t lose that. But anyone who says *you’re not going to be acknowledged unless you’re tested* is either too pessimistic or they’re racist. We also have to acknowledge that the very fact that people aren’t being supported or treated equitably unless they’re measured is racism. No one would ever say: *the rich kids in this private school—we don’t have a good measurement of them so we’re just not going to give them an education.* That’s just ridiculous. Continue reading →
A handy guide to steering clear of weeds and rabbit holes…
Can we talk about testing? And by *talk* I mean the thing where parents offer up reasonable, legitimate and likely heartfelt concerns, which testing advocates then deflect by changing the subject and *pivoting to a higher emotion.* That’s right reader—it’s time for another edition of Say This, Not That.Today’s topic: testing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp in amazement as our *testing talk* is transformed to appeal to different audiences. But watch out for weeds and rabbit holes! Continue reading →
Jesse Hagopian says protests against police and high-stakes testing have more in common than you think…
Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle’s Garfield High lead a walkout to protest police violence and racism.
EduShyster: You happened to be in Boston recently giving a talk about the new uprising against high-stakes testing on the same night that thousands of people here were protesting police violence and institutional racism. Here’s the people’s mic—explain how the two causes are related.
Jesse Hagopian: If I could have, I would have moved the talk to the protest to connect the issues. I would have said that the purpose of education is to empower young people to help solve problems in their community and their society. The purpose of standardized testing is to learn how to eliminate wrong answer choices rather than how to critically think or organize with people around you or collaborate on issues you care about. These tests are disempowering kids from the skills they really need to solve the big problems that our society and kids themselves are facing—like rampant police brutality and police terror. What’s the point of making our kids college and career ready if they can be shot down in the street and there’s no justice? You look at how testing and the preparation for testing now monopolizes class time—that is the American school system. If our schools emphasized rote memorization and dumbing down, that would be unfortunate. But the problem goes so far beyond that. We face huge problems as a society: mass incarceration, endless wars, income inequality. Our education system has to be about empowering students to solve those problems. Continue reading →
Yong Zhao warns that America is on a suicidal quest for educational excellence…
EduShyster: I have to start by paraphrasing my hero, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: why can’t we have China’s education system for a day?
Zhao: Because the Chinese system is not a system that you want to copy. I started thinking about writing this book a decade ago, after No Child Left Behind. I remember thinking *I can’t believe that the US is going to abandon what has made it a good country so far in order to try to copy a system that has been proven ineffective in producing a modern economy.* After a decade, it’s getting worse and worse, not just in education but in the rise in the glorification of authoritarianism in other domains. That’s how you end up with writers like Friedman asking *why can’t we be China for a day?* Every few decades people begin to question democracy because it isn’t as efficient as authoritarianism. On the one hand we condemn authoritarianism but at the same time we admire its actions. Continue reading →
The interview with the José Vilson
EduShyster: Your new book, This is Not a Test, has as its subtitle *a new narrative on race, class and education.* I inhaled the book over the course of a weekend, but I couldn’t figure out what the new narrative was. And then it finally dawned on me that you, José Luis Vilson, are the new narrative.
José Vilson: That would be it. There’s a lack of nuance in all facets of what we talk about when we talk about education. So I took a different approach. I tried to address education through narrative and stories, which I think is way more powerful than just coming out and saying *I don’t like this crap.* Continue reading →