Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Voice from Last Night's Regents' Diploma Hearing

I'm going to take the liberty of an extended snip from Jill Davidson's Providence Schools (and Beyond) blog:

I'm gratified to post a report on the evening from Aaron Regunberg. Aaron, a junior at Brown, is active locally in politics and education. He recently worked as an organizer on Angel Taveras' campaign and is actively supporting Hope students as they fight to maintain the schedules and structures that allowed them favorable conditions for learning. Here's his report:
What I saw at the hearing tonight was at the same time one of the most beautiful and the most frustrating spectacles I've experienced in a long time. On the one hand, it was absolutely inspiring to see so many different Rhode Islanders come together to fight for the type of education system they believed in. The PCTA auditorium was completely packed--there were students, parents, teachers, administrators, concerned citizens, black and white and brown, all protesting with one voice. That in itself should be pretty powerful evidence; one speaker said that he had never seen such a consensus, that he was there fighting next to people he had never agreed with before. And of course, it was particularly powerful to hear so many students committed enough to their education to come out on a freezing night like tonight to speak truth to power.

But as beautiful as the protest was, it was also immensely frustrating, because I had seen it all before. This was the third such hearing, not counting the initial mass protest in Narragansett at the beginning of the month. And none of these outpourings of anger, none of the valid and rationally articulated criticism had seemed to have any effect on any of the decision-makers. I was at the Regents' work session last Thursday, and listened as the Commissioner told the Board that nothing any of these different stakeholders had been saying was valid because it was all based on a belief that minority students are not able to achieve.

This shockingly ignorant statement allows these people to dismiss all of the arguments that students, parents, and educators are making--that tying graduation to a single test is horrifying; that even if it weren't horrifying in general, the NECAP is a horrifyingly bad test to use as it was designed specifically to not be used to test individual achievement; and that creating a tiered diploma system is inequality incarnate.

That's what everyone was saying. I just don't think the Regents particularly heard.


Jill Davidson said...

Thrilled that you used this, regret only that you caught the early version with grammar/wording wrongness in the first paragraph. Current version is better! Aaron's words remain the same, and they're what matters.

Tom Hoffman said...

Fixed. Also, I fixed the wrongness in my title!