Summary:Jesse Hagopian—a high school history teacher in Seattle and founding member of Social Equality Educators—participated in the boycott against Seattle Public School's mandated Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), along with numerous other teachers in the area. He shares how the boycott was organized and what lessons it holds for those who want to "liberate education from the standardized testing regime."
Teachers had been complaining of the many flaws of the MAP test for years—including by resolution at a citywide union meeting in 2010—but now it seemed Garfield teachers were ready to take action. We organized meetings of teachers in the tested subjects—reading and mathematics—to see what action they might be prepared to take.
Once we had heard from all the teachers in the tested subjects, we brought up the question of a MAP boycott at an all-staff meeting. Teachers asked me what the consequences could be. I didn’t sugarcoat it: “If you refuse a directive you can be labeled ‘insubordinate.’ We have a progressive discipline policy in the Seattle public schools, but ultimately your job could be on the line. However, if we all refuse to give the test, I would be surprised if they fire anyone.”
A highly respected teacher rose and addressed the room: “This flawed test is going to label my students and me as failures because it isn’t testing what I am teaching. I would rather be reprimanded for standing up for what I believe in than for sitting back and letting this test take advantage of me and my students.”
That was it. A unanimous vote to boycott the MAP test followed.