Alright, I’ll admit it. Participating in this event at the Pioneer Institute on this panel was really hard. It was essentially a room filled with people (mostly older white men) who do not trust teachers and think a common core curriculum and high-stakes tests are absolutely necessary. These are some of the same folks who have bankrolled the movement (if you can call it that) supporting the use of school vouchers AND who have also vociferously supported MCAS in the name of equity.

Hmmmm… I haven’t seen urban schools improve because of MCAS yet. The amazing Christina Brown from the Center for Collaborative Education asked the best question of the day: How, if we value students learning at high levels and doing rigorous work, can we possibly think it’s alright to give a multiple-choice History MCAS test (as the Massachusetts Department of Education has proposed)? I paraphrase, but she was brilliant and of course by the time she asked this, there was suddenly no time left to answer (!). We must find a way to continue the struggle against History MCAS. I worry terribly about what is going to happen if our voices aren’t continually heard. This is important-essential even-for our students and our school.

As I often do in difficult educational/political situations, I tried to channel my mentors Debbie, Ted, and Vito (Perrone) as I spoke and tried to listen politely. I wished that they could have all been in the room. Debbie wouldn’t have stood a minute for the arguments the Hirsh allies gave!

Bill Schechter and BAA alum and Humanities teacher Dan Sullivan