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Scrap the MAP! A boycott against standardized testing

Cynthia Zakhem

February 27, 2013

Resistance to standardized testing is growing in Seattle school boards, inspiring teachers and students beyond the state of Washington.
The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing is given to students in public schools to measure their academic improvement and to allow authorities to shadow a teacher’s progress throughout the year. Teachers are pointing out that the test is redundant and costly and will not improve education for students in Washington. Teachers at Garfield High School, as well as students and parents who support their decision, are responding to the imposition of the tests by launching a boycott.  

The children are being denied valuable school time during this testing process, as well as funding that could be allotted to other resources. With a fee of $500,000 a year for licensing and testing costs, schools would benefit from putting this money elsewhere into schools such as new books and technology.  Teachers are also highly against this testing because it is being used as a method to monitor their actions. Parents across America, as well as members of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are supporting the boycott and are voicing their discontent for this "standardized" testing.
Another issue that is of genuine concern to the board’s teachers is the idea of only testing public schools. If this test was to monitor the progress of students and their education then private schools should also be tested. Instead, private schools do not teach on a "testing" basis and are not forced to put students through such academic regulations. The discourse and divide between lower income schooling compared to higher income schooling students is already large, and only increasing. With the divide between the two systems of education, lower income students who attend public schools are at an even greater disadvantage. This test adds stress to their education and takes away classroom time and material resources, putting them at an even greater disadvantage.
The privatization that is widely affecting public schools within America is to be taken seriously. Teachers, students and parents are all at a great risk because of the closures happening throughout public schools. Consider the case of Chicago, where the city is looking to close down half of all public schools there. These closures will disproportionately affect racially marginalized students in one of the US’s most segregated cities. Organizing against these school closures in 2008 built the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) central to the succesful Chicago teacher's strike last year.
The over-emphasis on standardized testing is part of the privatization agenda of the US charter school industry and its bevy of subcontractors vying for contracts to help “transform” (privatize) public schools. Administering standardized tests is a way to monitor teacher performance and decreased test results can mean privatized institutes are able to gain access and property from public school closings. Publicly-funded schools, with their high-rates of unionization are being actively attacked, while privatized chartered schools are growing, based heavily on charter-funding giants like Bill Gates and the Waltons. This is disastrous for public education and the students and parents who depend on current school boards.
The boycott against standardized testing, that is inspiring teachers and students well beyond Seattle to join in the campaign is an important step in defending public education and the jobs and services they provide. The demonstrations of solidarity in other cities and the move by teachers in Minneapolis to take up the boycott are great signs of a resurgance in fighting teacher unionism, building on the impressive mobilization by Chicago teachers last year.

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