On Thursday March 12, my grandchildren Sadia and Gideon and I rushed to their school early. We joined hands with over two hundred parents, teachers, and kids at P 154 in Windsor-Terrace Brooklyn to protest against Governor Andrew Cuomo's push for high stakes testing and assessing teachers based on student performance on the tests. Gideon carried a sign "Protect Our School." Other children and parents held signs "Education Not Business" and Pro-Teacher, Pro-Kid." Sadia's friend Rory was angry with Governor Cuomo because "It is not fair to blame teachers if not enough kids pass his test." Rally organizers included PTA President Abby Palanca and 2nd grade teacher Laura Varriale. Dozens of Brooklyn schools and hundreds of schools citywide were scheduled to participate in the rally organized by a coalition called Protect Our Schools.
This rally was in marked contrast to a pro-Cuomo charter school rally organized at the state capital earlier in the month. The charters pulled children out of school, but the public schools ushered everyone into class in time for the start of the day. It is also not clear who put up the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to transport 10,000 children from New York City to Albany.
Sadia, Gideon, their friends, teachers, and all the other adults at the P 154 rally are catching a wave of anti-Common Core, anti-testing, pro-school and pro-teacher protest that is building nationwide.
In New Mexico, hundreds of students walked out in protest Hundreds of Albuquerque High School students stage a walkout in Albuquerque, N.M. on Monday, March 2, 2015, to protest a new standardized test PARCC they say isn't an accurate measurement of their education. Students frustrated over the new exam walked out of schools across the state Monday in protest as the new exam was being given. The backlash came as millions of U.S. students start taking more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards.
In Newark, New Jersey, high school students occupied the office of the state-appointed district superintendent. They demanded that New Jersey not renew the superintendent's contract and that in the meantime she be required to attend meetings of the Newark Public Schools' Advisory Board.
On Long Island, New York more than 1,000 people rallied at Tilles Center for Performing Arts on the LIU Post campus. They protested against high-stakes common core testing and the use of student scores to evaluate teachers. The crowd booed U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo The next round of standardized tests in New York in English and Math are scheduled to start April 14. Keynote speaker Diane Ravitch called on parents and teachers to "Organize, mobilize and defend your public schools against attack."
Long Island high school principal and Network for Public Education Board member Carol Burris also issued a called for resistance. According to Burris, "there comes a time when rules must be broken -- when adults, after exhausting all remedies, must be willing to break ranks and not comply. That time is now. The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing's high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now."