MEDIA ADVISORY: Garfield Teachers dismayed by school district’s refusal to meet before issuing threats; Call on Superintendent Banda to drop sanctions and start honest dialogue

For more information: Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian, 206-962-1685, jessedhagopian@gmail.com

January 24, 2013

Yesterday the school district finally communicated with us about our boycott of the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test. Not by phone. Not by email. Not by letter. Instead the district chose to communicate through a directive to principals indicating the expectation that school administration would be held accountable for assuring the MAP tests take place. In a letter from Paul Apostle, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, school principals are told “If a teacher refuses to administer the MAP assessment after a clear direction by you, such conduct is considered insubordination. When a staff member engages in such insubordination, such action will lead to appropriate disciplinary action.” Twice in the letter it was stated that such actions in the past have resulted in “a 10-day, unpaid suspension.” A threat? I am not sure how else to take that.

Not only did the district take the time to tell the principals to tell us what to do, but they provided a form letter for principals to pass along to those teachers who continue to refuse to give the MAP. The letter includes information about state law, district expectations, and the acknowledgement that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But make no mistake, the letter is intended to give a clear message: Give the MAP or be disciplined. “…I am specifically requiring that you administer the MAP assessment by the Feb. 22, 2013 deadline, notwithstanding your apparent disagreement with the District’s decision to require this assessment. Your refusal to administer the assessment consistent with District requirements and this directive will lead to discipline. Discipline that has been imposed for such insubordination in the past has included a 10-day, unpaid suspension.”

The letter from the district closes by expressing their understanding of the concerns surrounding MAP, and the future plan of Banda to create a joint task force to evaluate the assessment. “This is a productive way to work together on the issue. In the meantime, many of our principals and teachers find the MAP assessment to be very helpful.” While this may be true at some schools, what about those schools who recognize the limitations of MAP? What about MAP at the high school level where the results are statistically insignificant? There is not going to be a one size fits all solution to this problem. The district has agreed that there are problems with the MAP; why are we continuing to force it upon our teachers and students? The negatives outweigh any positives – this has been made clear. Continuing to give the test when it clearly is harmful to schools and students is something that we, as professional educators with students’ best interest at the forefront, will not do.

The threat of losing pay shows nothing but a lack of respect for our opinion and professional judgment. Those who are making these decisions ought to consider listening and reviewing the information rather than continuing to bully us into giving a worthless assessment that hurts our students, takes away resources, and costs hours and hours of instructional time.

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