Hands Up, Don’t Test

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 led a walkout in

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 HagopianIf 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 →

Question Authoritarianism

Yong Zhao warns that America is on a suicidal quest for educational excellence…

zhaoEduShyster: 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 →

This Is Not a Test

The interview with the José Vilson

this-is-not-a-test-cover-3bEduShyster: 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 →

Test the World

The coming global testing boondoggle
It’s a stark numerical conundrum: there are only so many standardized tests that boys and girls in the United States can be made to take. If only there were children in some other part of the world who could benefit from a diet rich in assessments and robust in metric… Great news, reader! The hundred of millions of children who live in developing nations, including the world’s poorest countries, represent the next great testing boondoggle frontier of measurability. Inhabiting a little known region known as the *global data gap,* we’ve never before known what they don’t know. But that’s about to change. Continue reading →

John King’s Gift to Parents

John King just gave New York parents the perfect spark to fuel the boycott fire.


By Sue Altman

John King cancelled a town hall style meeting in Garden City, NY this week where he was scheduled to discuss policy around testing and education reform. Following a raucous meeting in Poughkeepsie, King accused “special interests” of “manipulating parents” and called off the show. Continue reading →