Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Battle in Seattle

SEA. members  use phone bank to build support for Garfield teachers.
The courageous action taken by teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School has won growing support and admiration, not only from the city's teachers, parents and students, but from teachers nationwide. Their announced refusal on January 10th to administer the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), a poorly-constructed, high-stakes, standardized test, has once again brought national attention to disastrous testing-madness policies being pushed and enforced for the past 12 years under No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top.

The unanimous vote taken by the Garfield teachers to boycott the MAP has already garnered local support from teachers at Ballard High, Chief Sealth High, Ballard's Salmon Bay K-8, Orca K-8 and other Seattle area schools. Yesterday, rallying teachers at the Board of Ed heard a message of support from Chicago Teachers Union V.P. Jesse Sharkey who told the crowd:  "Sisters and brothers... There's only one way forward: Stick together and fight."

AFT prez Randi Weingarten and  NEA prez Dennis Van Roekel have both come out in support of the Garfield teachers. Yesterday (better late than never) Van Roekel called the test boycott, "A defining moment within the education profession.”

This from the SLOG blog:
Teachers learned today, in emergency after-school staff meetings, that they could be subject to 10-day suspensions without pay if they did not administer the test, according to Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian. "They say we're disruptive?" Hagopian called out, right outside the closed doors of the school board meeting. "I think a test that is not aligned to my curriculum is disruptive. Threatening teachers with 10 days without pay is disruptive." The rally ended with a hearty rendition of "SCRAP THE MAP! SCRAP THE MAP!" before leaders reminded everyone to be respectful, and most of the group crowded into the meeting.
Jesse Hagopian
Hagopian's January 17th Op-Ed piece in the Seattle Times makes clear the reasons for the teachers' dramatic action.
Former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson brought the MAP to Seattle at a cost of some $4 million while she was serving on the board of the company that sells it. The state auditor called this an ethics violation because she did not disclose it until after the district approved the company’s contract. After Goodloe-Johnson was fired, the MAP somehow survived the housecleaning. Garfield teachers refuse to administer an ethics violation.
We at Garfield are not against accountability or demonstrating student progress. We do insist on a form of assessment relevant to what we’re teaching in the classroom. 
While new Seattle Supt. Jose Banda is under pressure to suspend the teachers, such a move on his part would only broaden and intensify the anti-testing struggle and spread it to other schools.


  1. You can show your support for the Seattle teachers by signing this petition at

  2. I am a Cleveland,Ohio teacher and I fully support my colleagues in this matter.


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