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Committed To Fighting For Equity and Access in Public Education

Featuring interviews, testimony and analysis on issues facing public education in the U.S. through voices of teachers, parents, students, community members, education activists and education scholars. Education Radio is committed to exposing the profit driven interests fueling current education policies while addressing issues of true equity and access in public education.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Criminalizing failure: How high stakes testing warps identities, opportunities and communities


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In this week’s program, we take a closer look at how high stakes testing is impacting what happens in classrooms, how teachers see students, how students see themselves, and the kinds of society we are building through how young people are being educated. The impact of high stakes tests is both broadly social and intimately personal. Socially, high stakes testing re-segregates our schools, marginalizes black and brown children, young people who live in poverty and children who do not learn in traditional ways. High stakes testing tells us who we will value, and who we will not value, and makes room for us to criminalize youth, especially black and brown youth, opening the path to the school to prison pipeline. It operates within and builds on white supremacy, and exploits long standing privileges and oppressions. And, as with any dominant discourse, high stakes testing enters our consciousness and begins to structure how we see ourselves, each other, and the kind of world we want to build.

We speak with Linda Christensen, Director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis and Clark College, author of Reading, Writing and Rising Up among other books, and editorial board member for Rethinking Schools about how, entering the classroom, even with a curriculum designed to access student voices and knowledge, she discovered that the testing came to stand between her and the students, and her work with students to reclaim their knowledge and stories.
Wayne Au

Linda Christensen
Wayne Au, assistant professor of education at University of Washington Bothell,  and author of Unequal by Design: High stakes testing and the standardization of inequality, talks about how high stakes testing locks some students out of the curriculum and begins a process of devaluing - that changes how students know themselves, how teachers know students, and how society sees young people, especially young people of color.

Joan Grim
Joan Grim, teacher educator in special education at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, helps us to understand how high stakes testing is undermining 40 years of creating more inclusive classrooms by re-segregating both schools and the broader community, diminishing the strength and pleasure of diverse communities, and restricting the opportunities for young people with disabilities within our communities.

Edward Brockenbrough
We then speak first with Ed Brockenbrough, assistant professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, about how white supremacy, the institutionalization of systems of power and privilege that advantage white people, manifests in schools, the role of high stakes testing as surveillance,  and the school to prison pipeline.   Erica Meiners, professor of education and women’s studies at Northeastern Illinois University, furthers the connection from high stakes testing, to surveillance, to the school to prison pipeline and, finally, our massive incarceration system.

Erica Meiners (with Tim Scott)
We also hear from educators who are subverting these destructive process in their classrooms, including Linda Christensen, and Monique Redeaux, fifth grade teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, who talks about her experience within the high stakes testing machine and how she and her students find their voices within it.  We close out the program a spoken word piece from Cadijah Hyacinth, a student from NYC.

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