Sunday, April 28, 2013

500 Rally at Tweed to Protest Testing Policy Organized by Change the Stakes, Parent Voices and TOFT

A Young MORE
Friday many of us in MORE attended one of the best rallies we've been part of on the steps of Tweed which were packed with parents, teachers and children protesting high stakes tests with many MORE tee-shirts in the crowd. Change the Stakes has emerged out of a committee set up by GEM 2 years ago and has grown into a powerful parent advocacy group. The other teacher oriented arm of GEM inspired and helped organize MORE. Both CTS and MORE are more or less sister organizations but over the past year have not had the time to work as closely together as we should, though I and some other MOREs have been deeply involved in CTS. Below some pics with lots more later in a follow-up and maybe some video tonight.

The UFT had zero presence. When I was asked why I said, "Because the UFT supports high stakes testing." A really good time was had by all and afterwards over a dozen of us went to a local diner to chat about the UFT election results.

Here are some reactions and photos with video to follow in a few days.
Thank you fellow MORE comrades who showed up in numbers and in spirit today!
Police estimated that there were approximately 500 in attendance!
This was not just a parent movement, this is a parent/teacher movement!

I am prompted to write this because of a few questions that have come my way about how this all happened. It is my belief that no matter the conditions at our schools, if we build relationships, the very basic component of a community, we can build this movement across groups.

I have many ideas, but I'd love to have this discussion with anyone who's interested.
This has been a mantra that I've been posting- let's create our own stories and make
theirs obsolete.

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but lay siege to it.

To deprive it of oxygen. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature,

our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness- and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe." - Arundhati Roy

In solidarity,

Great wonderful time on the steps of Tweed.
I heard police estimated about 500 people. And they were 500 charged up people, really a beautiful day.

I didn't think I'd touch this computer for a week, but I have a message from TV station News12 the Bronx asking me for footage--believe it or not they are not allowed to leave the Bronx. ( I think it's an insurance matter.)

If anyone has images, moving or still, but preferably moving on their cameras or phones, please send to me or directly to so they can put them in the 10 or 11 pm slot.

I think they are looking for a modest amount of footage --A few minutes should do it.

Please call or email me and I will let them know it's coming.
They already interviewed some parents (in the Bronx) this afternoon.

A beautiful day--and this is only a start! Near the end, seeing the kids on the nearly emptied steps, racing around, was such a sight, bringing some life into that stony building.

ps attached is the press release. many thanks to all who contributed.

I want to send out huzzahs! to everyone. What a wonderful, warm, passionate crowd!

Janine was great both as organizer, speaker, and mop.
Jane H was great as organizer, of course, & on the scene about changing the chants (to good ones too) just as the current one lost steam.
Jane M - ditto about organizing, getting calls out to press (even if not enough showed up - but they'll start coming more & more, right?), & cheering people on, with & without the new press release.
Parents whose names I don't know (at least I don't remember 'em) were great for showing up, for standing up for what they believe - smiling yet - & some of them for telling their powerful powerful stories.
Teachers like Gia & Lauren who would rather put their jobs on the line than shoot down their own principles: kudos!
AND THOSE KIDS: hallelujah to them all!

You are all so strong! & even though it's a cliche, I'm gonna say it: so beautiful too.

I asked one boy how his test week had gone, & he said he hadn't taken the tests. And how was that? I asked. He shrugged & said, Well the whole blending in thing was a bit hard, but ... Was he the only one? I asked. Yes, he answered, that's what I meant about the blending in thing.

And now to tackle the rest of it, right? including perhaps stirring up a ruckus about the portfolios if they're not really portfolios? And the principals who need to be challenged for harassing the kids as well as their parents? And then, oh bliss: the field tests....

In awe,
Chris O
Thank you everyone for this wonderful experience! We didn't know what was going to happen and look what our passion and love for our children has brought us. I posted this quote by Arundhati Roy on FB. It's one that I've been using as a mantra almost.

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness- and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. - Arundhati Roy

Looking forward to our work together!

Enjoy the weekend!

Lisa S.
Apr 26 (2 days ago)

to CTS
CTS & TOFT, et al, 

Congratulations on the fantastic Rally!   You created an exciting event that helped join many groups against the DOE. I look forward to more unique opportunities to show our solidarity.  It was wonderful to see so many familiar and new faces in the crowd.  The best part was the 'kid friendly' atmosphere.  Special thanks to the tireless rally leaders!

Apr 27 (1 day ago)

to cts-internal
The rally was great!!  Everyone was marvelous. It was well organized.  Lots of people, old & young.  Lots of energy; the band was a good touch.  A dramatic conclusion to weeks of intensive effort on dealing with the tests.  I was happy to be part of it.

Apr 27 (1 day ago)

to cts-internal
Thanks to all who worked to put the rally together.  I have been to many rally rallies in front of Tweed, but this one was one of the biggest and certainly the best with so many children.  The children are really who it is about after all and the kinds of lives and knowledge they will grow up to have (partly based on the learning they experience).  When I rounded the cornor of Chambers street and saw the steps of Tweed filling up, it was such a great feeling.  When is the next CTS meeting? 

9:31 AM (22 hours ago)

to cts-internal
Let me add my gratitude and appreciation to ALL the CTS and others who organized and ran the rally.  It was super!  So many children and GREAT chants and the band - AWESOME!  Thank you all; I have some good shots on fbk and some footage, which I can send tonight to anyone who needs it.
Thanks again!
9:45 AM (22 hours ago)

to cts-internal
Congratulations to all the organizers. I have been to more rallies than I can count and this was one of the best. The diversity of children, parents teachers, educators and others interested in education but not necessarily working in schools was amazing. This was democracy at work, speaking out freely and loudly. I will be sending out pictures of the large group, the signs and those wonderful mops.

One parent commented that Gotham Schools
Estimated the crowd at 200 when police said 500 -- thanks for correcting them Fred!

On the last day of state testing, a sigh of relief and a protest rally

I know that some people will accuse Gotham Schools, in service of ed deform, of purposely underestimating the crowd at less than half of police estimates of 500 and for giving more coverage to ed deform supported astroturf organizations but.... well, let me mull this over. I left this comment:
This was one of the biggest outpouring of genuine grassroots parents I've seen and it will only grow. How much more coverage did Gotham give to that phony parent astroturf
"excellence for something" with their claims of 5000 people attending their events? Change the Stakes need to add some version of "excellence" to its name and get money from Walmart.


TODAY April 26, 2013

Media Contacts:     Jane Hirschmann, 917 679 8343            Jane Maisel, 917 678 1913


Parents, teachers and students gathered today to demand an end to the policy of high-stakes testing (HST), which they claim interferes with the teaching of subjects in depth and deprives the city’s children of a high-quality education, inflicting damage on them and their communities.

Parents and teachers, sharing the fears caused by threats of school closure and grade retention, said they are fed up and determined to put an end to HST. In fact, the closure and retention policies are what make the tests “high stakes.” Parent Jeff Nichols objects, “I find myself thinking, ‘Duh!’ Get the bureaucrats out of the picture! NO to the state tests because of the whole panoply of abuses they facilitate, but also NO to the whole concept that children are to be judged by paper-pushers who have never met them!” Loretta Prisco, a retired teacher states, “I am totally opposed to holding kids back. It doesn’t work. Think about the kid who is reading on level but has not mastered the math of his grade.”

Martha Foote, a parent of a 5th grader at PS 321 in Brooklyn, says: “High-stakes testing is corrupting and ruining our children’s education. It’s turning our schools into test-prep factories and turning our children away from learning. . . . Parents—from Buffalo to Rockville Centre—are saying enough of this insanity. It’s time to bring real learning back into the classroom.”

Researchers acknowledge an education crisis but say that it is not caused by the public schools. The real cause is our country’s increasing poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor—and the segregation that results. Children who are not living in poverty score as high or higher than students in Finland and other countries with strong school systems. However, a UNICEF study of the well-being of children in wealthy countries issued this month, the Innocenti Report Card, states that the US ranks near the bottom and in some categories second to last, just above Romania; in all large US cities public schools are so segregated that there is no evidence of the former impact of Brown v. Board of Education.

Teachers have been gagged by the DOE, warned that they must not speak out. Some have been threatened with loss of jobs and even of their licenses if they share their concerns about the pressure to do test prep rather than teach and the required use of the “Core Content State Standards,” which they find to be shoddy and age inappropriate.

Corruption of the purpose of education is paired with undue corporate influence on policy. One teacher said, “Boss Tweed’s legacy of corruption has rubbed off on the present occupant of the Tweed Courthouse, the NYC DOE, whose policies are most responsive to rich and powerful corporations that are rewarded with no-bid contracts for billions of dollars.”

Meanwhile, most public officials’ children are in private schools, getting the meaningful education that public school students are deprived of. An elementary teacher says, “The children deserve schools just as good as the private schools political leaders choose for their children. . . . It’s hypocritical for politicians like NY State Education Commissioner John King and President Obama to send their children to private schools where there are no high-stakes tests, and then impose them on our kids.”
A sixth grader recently wrote about her view of the limitations of HST: “The test doesn’t let you learn much about the students or their teachers. A project could show more because . . .  the students can express what they can do and have the time to show what they know. . . . If the DOE wants to know anything on how smart we are, this test is not the correct answer.”
The DOE claims it has no choice but to use HST. When DOE Deputy Chancellor Polakow-Suransky stated last December that “the federal government has a rule that you have to do this testing,” parent Patricia Padilla responded: “I don’t think that we have to wait for federal law to change for there to be a change in high-stakes testing—because if that were the case I would still be picking cotton or drinking from the colored water fountain."


1 comment:

  1. Whenever you see these More people they are wearing those stinkin Tee Shirts. I would up that they get a chance and throw them in the wash.

    When you see a Unity guy or gal, they are never in a shirt that says Unity, always UFT. If More claims that they are UFT, after an election they should where UFT shirts, available from the DR, Borough Office, or Just For Fiun department at HQ.

    I have no problem with Campaign material but now it is time to be the loyal opposition. You are better than E4E don't go sour like them.


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