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February 1, 2013
Dear Superintendent Banda:
We, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, stand in solidarity with the teachers, at Garfield High School and others, who are boycotting the MAP test. YUIR is comprised largely of high school age youth of color who work to address issues of institutional inequity. These tests, which inaccurately measure our ability to learn, directly impact us.
We support this boycott because it produces inconsistent results and is an inappropriate evaluation of our knowledge. Those of us who have taken the MAP test can testify that the tests are irrelevant to what we learn in our classes, and miss the mark in terms of what we should be focusing on in school. We see inaccurate forms of standardized evaluation having much larger impacts than mere irrelevancy to our lives; an inaccurate test such as the MAP risks producing more social and racial inequality by disadvantaging students from low-income families, with learning disabilities, and for whom English is not a native language. Furthermore, standardized tests like the MAP are complicit in maintaining the school to prison pipeline by stratifying students into different socioeconomic tracks, and churning “low-achieving” students out of schools and into prisons.
As students, for whom public schooling is largely a banal, culturally insensitive, and at times downright oppressive institution, we are very excited to see our teachers standing up for a higher quality of education for all. The teachers standing up for what they believe in teaches us more about civic leadership and critical thinking than any standardized test will.
We hope that as a superintendent who is concerned with the welfare of students, you do not suspend the dedicated teachers without pay, but rather earnestly consider their concerns and reach a resolution that allows teachers’ and students’ efforts to be evaluated in a just manner.
Youth Undoing Institutional Racism