Go Big or Go Home, Part 2
I cannot explain what happened next. All I remember thinking as I listened to those who spoke against was that they were talking about another NBI entirely. While I agreed with some of the points made, other statements truly disturbed me. There were multiple passionate pleas made in favor of the NBI as well.
What stood out to me was the real and prevalent fear among my fellow educators. I do not say this from a place of blame or malice. There is an overwhelming sense that survival is the name of the game right now. If we, as educators, feel that way then how must our students feel? It is too much pressure on our students for tests that literally tell us nothing of value. When we are concerned more about how a child who has been opted out affects our VAM scores or our district report cards than we are about the children who sit for hours in front of these pointless tests, we are not staying true to our mission as educators or as an organization.
Here is the amended version that passed:
OEA will lobby the state legislature to require that ODE will notify parents of their
right to refuse and the implications of refusing statewide standardized tests that are
not required for any grade promotion or graduation.
It is a step in the right direction. Movement forward. It is not enough, though, and I will continue to push for stronger support for parents and their children who refuse standardized tests because it is the right thing to do. Last year, the NBI I introduced created a lot of debate and failed.
Before this NBI, the most spirited debates were about two other issues. One had to do with the number of Representative Assemblies to be held annually. It was important to discuss this issue before delegates; however, the length and intensity of the debate did not match its importance for educators and our students. The other requested that OEA inform members about the existence of The Network for Public Education (NPE). I was astonished at the debate that followed. This was the most ironic part of the two days for me. I cannot, for the life of me, fathom one NPE stance that OEA would oppose. You can check it out for yourself here: http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/about-npe/our-positive-agenda/
I was fortunate enough to attend the most recent NPE Conference held in Chicago in April. This conference was about the same length as the OEA RA. While they obviously have distinctively different purposes, the missions of both organizations mesh more than not. One glaring difference that I noted is the NPE Conference was filled with pressing and relevant issues to educators and their students. I attended incredible sessions about social justice, test resistance, building allies, and community schools. These do not even include the outstanding keynotes. You can view each keynote speech on NPE’s website. Particularly, OEA members may be interested to see Dr. Diane Ravitch in conversation with Lily Esklesen-Garcia and Randi Weingarten.
At the NPE Conference, I did not have to wait until the last moments to know how my being there could and would help my students and me as a professional who advocates for her students.