Student’s Answer to Testing: ‘Shut the School Down!’

NEW YORK CITY, June 30 — The ruling class has been forcing NYC teachers to give testing so the bosses can intensify fascist practices at home, enabling them to continue their imperialist wars. Some PL teachers met to discuss the new preparatory tests that would presumably “predict” what students would do on the final tests. These would be given three times a year, administered by teachers, then graded by the State. One PL teacher was in a high school that was administering the test, a joint partnership between the State and Houghton-Mifflin Corporation. The PL teachers decided that a written report on the test was needed.

As part of his training, the PL teacher saw the computer program of the standardized test. One screen correlated the teachers, the number of students taking the test and the students’ scores on that test. The rulers will use this test to determine what teachers teach in the classroom. They want to tie a teacher’s tenure to the test scores, which would provide a basis for their merit pay schemes. Communists must lead the working class to struggle against the bosses’ attempt to implement this new weapon against us.

A week later the school discussed the testing. The bosses’ puppet facilitator tried to explain that “data-driven education” would be positive. The PL teacher exposed the test as a “tool of oppression,” to loud applause from the majority of teachers. Every teacher who spoke afterwards condemned the test. Only the school administrators showed even tacit support for it. This did not happen in a vacuum. Over 100 CHALLENGES are distributed in the school, more than 20 among the staff. Years of friendship and political discussion with these teachers encouraged them to express their anger toward the ruling class’s plans.

With PL’ers confident in our ability to extend the struggle among teachers, it was time to involve the students directly. PL’ers have patiently built ties among the students for over four years. More than 80 students read CHALLENGE regularly; 10 have joined the Party.

After carefully estimating the balance of forces, the PL teacher encouraged his freshman classes to boycott the test. He told them his job was to give them the test, but they could decide whether or not to take it. He informed them that over $100 million had already been spent on the test.

The students were already frustrated with standardized testing and asked if the tests would affect their grades. The answer was no, but the State could come down on them hard. One student declared, “Well, let them throw the first punch and we’ll shut the school down.” Another replied, “Just give us the excuse.” (Continued next issue.)

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