Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MORE's Jia Lee NYC teacher and conscientious objector to hi-stakes testing chosen as witness at the US Senate testing hearings on Jan. 21!!!!

Jia and Andre
Leonie Haimson made the exciting announcement about Jia Lee to the Change the Stakes listserve. Jia has been a stalwart on both the MORE and Change the Stakes steering committees over the years.

I pledge to represent the children and their families, our profession and our communities to the best of my ability (hand across my heart) and tell them like it is! ... Jia Lee

Jia will be testifying in Washington tomorrow, Weds., Jan. 21. How great would it be if she wore her MORE tee shirt to the hearing.

The UFT/AFT/NYSUT crowd cannot be happy. Jia has declared herself a proud member of MORE and CTS,  leading the opt-out of tests movement here in NYC. NYSUT and the UFT have not jumped on the opt-out movement, instead issuing warnings to teachers like Jia that even mentioning opt-out to a parent could get them in trouble.

Jia was one of the MORE candidates running against the Revile (nee Revise) NYSUT slate last spring, along with Eterno, Cavanagh, Cohen, Schirtzer and Portelos.

Isn't it interesting that the Republicans who took over the Senate education committee a few weeks ago, led by former Secty of Education under Bush I in the early 90s, invited Jia (then ed deformer Diane Ravitch was the Under Secretary). Jia wouldn't have been given the time of the day by the Democrats, who seem to have little interest in the views of an actual classroom teacher.

Jia is a bright ray of light - and it is getting to know people like her through the work of MORE and CTS that keeps me involved in political action. She is not only a great educator and advocate for teachers and children. I have never found her to be down or lacking in optimism. As a single parent she often brings her amazing 11-year old son to events, meetings, etc and we get to see an example of wonderful parenting.

Some reactions:
Wow, great news.. Jia that is quite an honor. You are the most conscientious conscientious objector I know! .... Michelle
Yay Jia!!!!!!!!!! Stupendous news... Jeff
This is frickin' fantastic! Go get 'em, Jia!!!... Nancy
There's no one I'd rather see carrying the torch... Fred
This is wonderful news, Jia. I am so proud and honored to have you tell our story. You are a prize representative and thank you for all you are doing and about to do.
You absolutely are going to rock the house!! ! ! ! Janine
Wooo Hooo! Go Jia. You are going to know their socks off!... Jean
Thank you, Jia, for your persistence and dedication. Your actions continue to inspire others--and that goes for all on the list as well!... Edith
Now the wide world is getting a chance to hear you for themselves. My hope is that these senators stay in touch with you, and seek your advice. Fabulous news... Jane
I pledge to represent the children and their families, our profession and our communities to the best of my ability (hand across my heart) and tell them like it is! .... Jia
Ed deformers also can't be happy, even though the panel will be stocked with deformers. Then yesterday we found that another NYC teacher, Stephen Lazar, was added to the witness list; Stephen Lazar is on the Chalkbeat advisory board and blogs here:
http://ny.chalkbeat.org/author/stephen-lazar/. Given the Chalkbeat connection to ed deform, I was wary that there was an attempt to balance Jia's expected strong condemnation of standardized testing from the perspective of an elementary school special ed teacher who has also taught in high schools and junior high schools.

Jia works at the Earth School and Lazar founded a school, both not quite typical of NYC schools. (I'm betting no bully, insane principals.) But I do know that Jia spent years of horror working at PS 63M under a horrific principal who pushed all kinds of insane testing and other stuff onto the staff, who is still there. So Jia certainly brings that perspective to the table.
Leonie wrote:
Here is one thing he says about the state HS Social studies framework: http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2013/03/05/proposed-social-studies-framework-needs-improvement/#.VL1f1i7F-Rg.

And Diane Ravitch said:
Steve Lazar sounds like an educator with a conscience http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2012/10/22/why-im-starting-a-school-the-political-answer/#.VL1itUvm7Kc

Well, E4E and TFA people claim to be teachers of conscience. But from the little contact I've had with Lazar he seems to be a good guy.

Lazar teaches at Harvest Collegiate High School, which he help found and he wrote this:
Anyone who tells you they know how to improve schools at scale is lying or delusional. There is simply no precedent for taking a large number of struggling or mediocre schools and improving them. To say that the solution is to close them down and replace them with new ones, as the Bloomberg administration has done for 10 years now, is one of the great acts of hubris in our time. The part of me that cares deeply about the politics of educational policy, and its utter lack of regard for democracy under Bloomberg, doesn’t want to support this policy in any way.
But opening a school is doing that. I’m excited for Harvest Collegiate High School to be born, but for that to happen, Legacy High School has to die.
Read his entire statement here. I guess as a teacher who would have loved to work at an enlightened school but spent his entire career working in struggling schools I have 2 minds. Would I have started a school if given the chance or would I think it a higher calling to stay and work to make my school better? I did stay and fought a losing battle against the political machines running the schools.

I had many of the same discussions with old pal Harlem Link charter school founder Kitchen Sink (Steve Evangelista) who I got to like and respect - he runs an honest charter.

I think Stephen Lazar is an honest, thoughtful educator.

Here is the announcement of the witness list for this panel, which I'm sure includes deformers.

Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
10:00 a.m.
430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Panel I

Dr. Marty West, Associate Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

Mr. Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Education, Concord, NH

Mr. Tom Boasberg, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO

Ms. Jia Lee, Fourth and Fifth Grade Special Education Teacher, Earth School, New York, NY

Mr. Wade Henderson, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Stephen Lazar, Eleventh Grade US History and English Teacher, Harvest Collegiate High School, New York, NY

From Capital Education -—Also, “one of the witnesses at a [U.S.] Senate HELP Committee hearing Wednesday on testing will be Jia Lee, a special education teacher in New York.” POLITICO Pro’s Maggie Severns: http://politico.pro/1yihw4t

I can't access this story since it is on Politico Pro - if anyone can get it copy and paste it into an email to normsco@gmail.com.



  1. Before founding his present school, Stephen Lazar was also a former UFT chapter leader when he taught in a Bx HS.

  2. Hi Norm! I worked with Stephen when we wrote MOSLs last year. He is a bright guy whom I immediately respected and he could sum up points eloquently. He's a good guy!

  3. Stephen Lazar wrote an interesting post in the Shanker Blog regarding the poor implementation of the common core.



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