Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Brush With Fame: Brooklyn Parents Opting Out

Today, I had a brush with fame.

I know, you're thinking that it had something to do with President Obama's visit to Zingerman's. And it didn't--although both my son and our exchange student were trapped in Community High School during the Obama lockdown. [Recap: They didn't get to meet the President, though they did meet some secret service agents. Our exchange student almost missed getting to the Skyline Junior Varsity first tennis match--versus Canton. Skyline won. Go Skyline!]

Liz Rosenberg, Kemala Karmen, and
Dionne Grayman are the co-founders of Kemala is on the far right.
In any case, the brush with fame that I'm talking about has to do with the fact that our dear friend Kemala Karmen, one of the co-founders of, is extensively quoted by Diane Ravitch at an "Opt Out of Testing" rally.

And by extensively, I really mean that Ravitch's entire blog post is devoted to Kemala's remarks! I know, I know, Diane Ravitch publishes several posts a day--unlike me. Nonetheless, it's still pretty cool. states, in its "About Us" section of its website, "Democracy is something that public school parents must have more access to. That’s why we are creating this organization." I couldn't possibly agree more. That's why I write this blog.

Here is some of what Kemala has to say:
“Now we can add one more way in which Brooklyn is blazing a trail: the parents of Brooklyn, outraged by the hijacking of our childrens’ educations, outraged by the assault on our public schools and on our public school teachers, we parents of Brooklyn are taking a stand. Whether we live in Brownsville or Cobble Hill, Ft. Greene or Greenpoint, we are saying ENOUGH! Stop using the blunt instrument of the state ELA and math tests to rank and sort our children, our teachers, and our schools. . . 
“So now, we parents are invoking the only tool we have left. In growing numbers, we are refusing to let our children take these tests. No test score means no data. No data on which to base teacher evaluations. No data on which to justify school closings. No sensitive, personal data that follows our children from year to year, from school to school. . .  
This morning parents at our District 15 school stand together with parents at other Brooklyn schools to announce the explosive growth of test resistance in our borough, a movement that is gaining momentum elsewhere, too—in the city, and the state, and, really, anywhere in the country where parents see the joys of teaching and learning constrained, the spark of curiosity and creativity snuffed out. . . 
It may be April Fools Day, but these tests and, indeed, the whole edifice of corporate “education reform” built upon these tests is no joke. It is no laughing matter when millions are diverted away from our children’s classrooms and into the hands of for-profit companies. It fails to amuse when our class sizes become so large that even our best teachers are hard pressed to know each child. 

Kemala, I'm proud of you! Read the full text of Kemala's speech here.

[And for another post on assessment, you might enjoy "Should there be public ratings for airline pilots?"]

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