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CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE in a Seattle Classroom

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, April 21st, 2008 at 12:29 pm in Schools.

sat Public education came to a screeching halt in millions of classrooms this month as children spent day after day bubbling in answers to state standardized exams. But Seattle sixth grade teacher Carl Chew had had enough. Last week, he refused to administer the WASL, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning exam used to satisfy requirements under No Child Left Behind. Chew’s explanation? “I have done this because of the personal moral and ethical conviction that the WASL is harmful to students, teachers, schools, and families.” And he cited 24 reasons why the exam was bad for kids, families and schools.

But school administrators regarded it as an act of civil disobedience and escorted him off campus. Now, his superintendent says Chew will be suspended without pay for two weeks for insubordination, and he’ll be expected to administer the exam next year.

Chew’s actions were applauded by teachers and families in other states, the Parent Empowerment Network, and Gerald Bracey, an education policy fellow at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado, Boulder, added his kudos in a Huffington Post essay that’s more than a little hyperbolic. (Um, the Nuremburg trials? War crimes? That’s a tad extreme.)

We’re waiting to see if Chew’s civil disobedience is contagious. Your thoughts?

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No Responses to “CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE in a Seattle Classroom”

  1. Andre Gensburger Says:

    Mr. Chew has the right idea, and the conviction to risk his career on his defiance. It is a shame he will get no support from all the little NCLB addicts administering schools. Assessing is fine, but when it becomes the religion of education, and a political tool as well, it is a dangerous example of how we dumb down our kids while claiming to elevate test scores. Multiple choice, by its very existence, offers the answer in one out of four chances. Two of the choices are usually ludicrous and any semi-intelligent kid can spot them, which skews the odds to one out of two. Unless we are raising a nation of gamblers, this is not called learning, or adequate assessment. If you want to assess, then require the answers to be written and explained, not bubbled in. Maybe then we can all get scared at how much lower the scores really are. And if you want to know why colleges claim students come in not knowing the basics, look at assessments as a first stop.

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