Love was in the air to such an extent at this event, I even gave Randi Weingarten a hug. And smiled at Mulgrew. After all, being in the same space with Debbie Meier and Diane Ravitch is a very special occasion, especially as it was a fundraiser for a worthy organization. You know I just found buried in my archives a book by Debbie that I was reading around 1971 when I gave up my dream of an open classroom in frustration. I have followed her career since then but only got to meet her 5 years ago.
FAIR TEST has been leading the battle against high stakes tests for a quarter of a century and its director Monty Neill has been a major voice in the struggle, which if you have been following this blog you know has been heating up (Police Estimate 400 at Pearson Field Test Protest). It was the best $75 I've spent in a long time.
It was just a few short hours before we found out Walker had won in Wisconsin. And though I think that big labor bears part of the responsibility, the evening of good feeling transcended it all. Feeling a great deal of labor solidarity I had a brief but nice chat with Randi.
The entire video is worth an hour of your time and you can watch it at https://vimeo.com/43587373.
I also cut it into 4 chunks for those short on time.
I'm embedding this 19 minutes piece when Deb and Diane did a version of their Edweek (Bridging Differences) blog to end the evening. Just priceless stuff.
Meier and Ravitch in Conversation
FairTest Award - Meier and Ravitch in Conversation from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.
Here are other segments:
Deborah Meier Introduces Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch Acceptance Speech
And in this segment I collated all the other speakers:
Michael Mulgrew, Ann Cook, Monty Neill, Randi Weingarten
The battle against high stakes tests has been in the forefront of Ed Notes from way back to our print publishing beginnings in 1996 when I was still working at a school that had been led since 1979 by a test/data driven principal (yes, even in those days) and I saw first hand what that did to deform education as the ability of teachers to control what they taught was being taken out of their hands. Thus, the issue was a key when ICE, followed by GEM were formed. The GEM committee, Change the Stakes, which began as a teacher dominated group has shifted into much of a parent/teacher group, with the sensibilities of both points of view making it stronger. Of course many teachers are also parents.
Also, on June 7, the afternoon of the Pearson rally, the education committee of MORE, the new caucus in town, held a great session on chapters 8 and 9 of Ravitch's book, with a depth of analysis that delved into what Ravitch left out and what she nailed with an intellectual rigor I haven't experienced in a while. In the room were some new teachers and some veteran ICE people, along with some NYCORE and GEM. Quite a mix -- the next meeting is June 21 (which I can't attend because we are having a party in honor of my dad where we will serve samples all of his favorite foods -- and have a barf bag ready just in case).
One major group we have to convince to get involved are the very people we work with. Organized, teachers can fight back against this testing mania and while the UFT/AFT make noises, they do nothing at the school level to get some pushback --- like how about getting a movement going to boycott some of the crap teachers have to do that has little relation to the children -- the waste of time monitoring crap?