Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teachers College Protest Stories and Pics - Updated With Press Release


Daiyu Suzuki (TC Doctoral Student in Curriculum & Teaching)  (646) 546-2513 or daiyu.suzuki@gmail.com 

On May 21, NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch encountered a peaceful protest by the students and faculty of Teachers College during its graduation ceremony where she was the keynote speaker and was awarded a medal of honor for “Distinguished Service.” The fact that the decision was made by Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman without any internal selection committee manifested the erosion of shared governance that has been taking place under President Fuhrman’s leadership. In addition, many faculty members and students were enraged because this opportunity to speak at such a special moment revealed both the College’s implicit endorsement of the test-driven corporate reforms that Chancellor Tisch symbolizes as well as an assault on academic freedom and integrity that is taking place under the leadership of President Fuhrman, who sits on the Board of Directors of a multinational education giant, Pearson PLC. A group of graduating students, with the support of other students, created a flyer (attached) which had facts about Chancellor Tisch’s destructive education policies on one side and showed on the back a large sign that said “NOT A TEST SCORE,” a message against the testing regime she constructed in the state of NY.
With the help of some faculty members and few parent activists from Change the Stakes and Time Out From Testing, the students distributed the flyer widely to the faculty, graduates, and their guests as they entered the venue. During Chancellor Tisch’s speech, hundreds of students and over a half of the faculty held up the sign to express their disapprovals. One student later described, “It was a very profound experience to witness the sea of protest signs.”
-        A graduate said, “it was a significant moment to remember. Seeing students and faculty holding proudly the signs while Tisch was looking confused and distressed was very powerful.” She said, “I was siting in the back, so from my view I saw the majority of the Faculty holding the signs and a third of students facing Tisch with sign at high. She seemed emotionally affected. I would say she almost cried at the beginning.” She also described how brave professors who held up the signs behind the podium were loudly cheered by the graduates.

-        Another graduate reflects, “It was a great celebration of our beliefs.

-        An MA graduate (Curriculum & Teaching) Robyn Fialkow reflects, “To see signs from across departments, from faculty members on stage, from guests in the audience; to hear people's words of support as we marched proudly out of the Cathedral; to sit in strong silence and in clear resolve among friends and colleagues united in a noble cause -- this is what I will remember of my graduation day.” 

-        The students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Teachers College are calling for a reexamination of the state of the College (http://education4.org/ under “Re-imagining TC”) in this 125thanniversary of the institution. They intend to build on today’s successful protest against Chancellor Tisch and President Fuhrman’s unilateral decision to honor her.

-       In a statement released today, parents across New York State have come together to support the protest arising within the Teachers College community, joining a large group of TC faculty, staff, students and alumni objecting to TC President Susan Fuhrman’s decision to honor NY State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch at the TC graduation ceremony on May 21. The parents announced their support for the TC protesters, saying that Tisch’s policies hurt children and damage all public schools, with ill effects falling most drastically on schools that serve middle-class and poor families.
-       As parents see their children experience the devastating effects of Tisch’s agenda, they are dismayed to find TC’s president praising Tisch’s policies. Fred Smith states at www.schoolbook.org, “Tisch has supported New York’s testing program as it became the black hole of education from the inception of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. Children have been reduced to data points.”
-       It has been revealed that Fuhrman has strong ties to one of the largest corporations benefiting from Tisch’s policies, Pearson, as Fuhrman sits on the board of Pearson and through her Pearson stock holdings benefits personally from the Tisch policies. Jeanette Brunelle Deutermann spoke out against honoring Tisch. The protests “will send a strong message to all universities that whom they honor DOES matter.”

-       A large portion of TC’s community has courageously protested the honoring of Tisch, with statements signed by many TC alumni (petition organized by Carol Burris, ’03, Ed.D; Bill Ayers ’87, Ed.D; Sean Feeney, ’05, Ed.D) and public school teachers (Brian Jones, MORE, NYC; Karen Lewis, President of Chicago Teachers Union; Jesse Hagopian, Seattle Garfield High School). They are now joined by parent groups. Edith Baltazar supports the TC protests: “I am outraged. Why should Merryl Tisch receive an award for approving the high-stakes testing that creates a climate of fear in our schools and disrupts the real teaching of our children?”

-       Jeff Nichols states that “as parents, we call on the administration of Teachers College in general, and President Fuhrman in particular, to sever all ties with private corporations that have influence over education policy decisions. The administration of the College should take a leading role in rejecting discredited practices like high-stakes testing and untried, undemocratically instituted curricula like the Common Core. Teachers College should disassociate itself from figures like Chancellor Tisch who have participated in undermining the authority of teachers and parents over crucial educational decisions such as student assessment and design of curriculum.”

-       Parents applaud the TC community’s courage in protesting, pointing out that Fuhrman’s plan would make TC complicit with Tisch’s pro-corporate agenda and would constitute a violation of TC’s long tradition of supporting public schools as a force for equality and opportunity for all members of society.

-       Parents stand by the Teachers College protesters in saying NO to Tisch’s agenda and NO to TC honoring her at their graduation ceremony!
For more info, please visit our Facebook page
 Steven Dubin, Ed.D (Professor of Arts Administration) is also available for your questions. (917) 565-0757 or sd2188@tc.columbia.edu
MORE Below the break

Washington Post (blog) - 6 hours ago
Some students staged a quiet protest at Columbia University Teachers College commencement ceremonies Tuesday in New York to express their unhappiness with the choice of Merryl Tisch as a speaker and award recipient. The protesters opposed the ...
SchoolBook - 9 hours ago

At Tuesday's graduation ceremony for Teachers College, a group of students and faculty protested the awarding of an honor to Merryl Tisch, chancellor of New York State Board of Regents, because of what they see as her role in high-stakes testing in the ...

Hope someone will blog it the photos that Daiyu tweeted were great.  Links below, here are two:

·  @thechalkface Actually, even the faculty members behind the podium are holding up the signs, "NOT A TEST SCORE" !! pic.twitter.com/MsXtenY9l1
·  Edu437Edu4 @Edu4_news 11h
@leoniehaimson @DianeRavitch @TeachersCollege studnts r protestng @ todays graduatin speakr Merryl Tisch! #NotMyTC pic.twitter.com/UU5EXqoSH6

·  Edu437Edu4 @Edu4_news 11h
@carolburris @TeacherReality @TeacherSabrina TC grads standng up against Merryl Tisch RT @weremish Hell yeah #notmytc pic.twitter.com/uHM3CWYAUX
·  Edu437Edu4 @Edu4_news 11h
@coopmike48 @ProgresivTeachr @nikhilgoya_l TC grads standing up against Merryl Tisch RT @weremish Hell yeah #notmytc pic.twitter.com/uHM3CWYAUX
·  Edu437Edu4 @Edu4_news 11h

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