Saturday 27 April 2013

Send support to Seattle teachers boycotting MAP testing

From the Teacher Solidarity website
The attacks on teachers and education from the likes of Michael Gove are worldwide. Internationally, neo-liberal politicians are trying to use imposed testing - like SATs or, in Seattle, the 'MAP' test, to unfairly label students and teachers alike as 'failures' in an effort to justify cuts and privatisation.

As the article below on the boycott of the MAP test by teachers at Garfield High School Seattle explains  "standardized tests are used to bind teacher pay and even their employment to student evaluations ... Bad or failing test scores are interpreted as the products of a bad teacher, not the failure of the government to adequately fund education, and are used to justify the privatization of public education by pro-corporate politicians".

After successfully boycotting the MAP test this winter, the battle is now set for an ongoing boycott in Seattle and beyond this spring. The stakes are even higher this time because the spring test marks are used to decide on teacher evaluations too. 

Threats are now being made against the boycotting teachers who are appealing for international messages of solidarity. For more information and contact links see: and

Support Seattle Teachers! No more threats! Scrap the MAP!


"Garfield High School teachers voted unanimously to boycott the MAP test and in doing so have given bold action to the simmering anger amongst teachers in Seattle and nationwide at constant standardized testing. Inspired by the Garfield teachers, Columbia City's Orca K-8 and most of Ballard's Salmon Bay K-8 teachers voted to join the boycott. Meanwhile, Franklin, Ballard, and West Seattle High Schools, as well as the American Federation of Teachers and the Seattle Education Association, have voted to support the boycott by urging Seattle school superintendent José Banda to stop administering the tests district-wide. Additionally, the Chicago Teachers Union, whose victorious strike late last year points the way forward for the struggle against the systematic dismantling of public education and the savage attack on teachers unions, have offered their support.

The MAP and other standardized tests are used to bind teacher pay and even their employment to student evaluations. On the surface this may seem reasonable, but in the context of devastating attacks on public education funding and ballooning classroom sizes, this is really an effort to shift blame onto teachers. The MAP test is administered over several days three times a year. Its questions are not based on the topics covered in class, and its results are not detailed enough to be useful to teachers. Bad or failing test scores are interpreted as the products of a bad teacher, not the failure of the government to adequately fund education, and are used to justify the privatization of public education by pro-corporate politicians. When teachers and their unions fight back, they are painted as impediments to "education reform."In Washington State, K-12 education funding has been cut $3.5 billion since 2009 by the Democratic Party-run legislature. The cuts have been so destructive that the state Supreme Court was forced to rule that the legislature was violating the state Constitution by not adequately funding education. It's astonishing that in a state with the most successful and profitable corporations in the world, not to mention the richest people in the world, there is a problem of this magnitude. It's only conceivable when one understands that the Democratic and Republican Parties and their politicians ultimately do not represent the interests of students, teachers, families, or the wider community. Rather, they represent the super rich and corporations who demand huge tax breaks, and, in the case of Bill Gates, the dismantling of public education and vicious attacks on teachers unions. Bill Gates and his foundation are ardent supporters of charter schools, which this past election cycle, for the first time after 4 attempts, were able to win enough support to begin operation in some Washington school districts.

The Superintendent of Seattle Schools initially threatened a 10-day suspension without pay if teachers refused to administer the test. Although he has since revoked this threat, he has left open other possible retaliation against the teachers. This is an attack against all teachers, students, and the community. More teachers and schools need to be brought into the boycott, and protests like the 300-person protest at the Seattle School Board meeting need to be organized but on a larger scale. The local teachers' union, Seattle Education Association, could bring to bear its resources and organize a united and coordinated boycott of the MAP test in all Seattle schools. Broadening the struggle to university faculty and community college instructors, who are suffering under ferocious budget cuts and stifling working conditions, would also lend strength to the fight. Importantly, students should be brought into the struggle. Walkouts could be organized against standardized tests, threatened suspensions, and cuts to education funding.

This is a fight for the whole community because it is a fight waged against the whole community. The teachers are bravely stepping up and facing the onslaught head on, putting their jobs and resources on the line. It is well past time we join them. You can start by calling or emailing the Superintendent of Seattle Schools and telling him to back down from his threat to suspend the teachers, scrap the MAP, and meet with teachers, parents, and students to hear their concerns about standardized testing. Also demand that the Superintendent take a public stand in favor of the teachers, against the incessant testing, and in favor of full funding for education".

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