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FW: Report: Protest at Teachers College Convocation

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  • Leonie Haimson
    From: Edu4 [mailto:edu4team@gmail.com] Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2013 9:12 AM To: undisclosed-recipients: Subject: Report: Protest at Teachers College Convocation
    Message 1 of 1 , May 26 8:44 AM

    From: Edu4 [mailto:edu4team@...]
    Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2013 9:12 AM
    To: undisclosed-recipients:
    Subject: Report: Protest at Teachers College Convocation




    On May 21, NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch encountered a peaceful but powerful protest by the students, faculty, and staff of Teachers College during its graduation ceremony where she was the keynote speaker and was awarded a medal of honor for “Distinguished Service.” The protest was also directed toward the President of the Teachers College, Susan Fuhrman, who made the decision to honor the chief education policymaker of the state of NY without any internal selection committee. Many faculty members and students were offended as they felt that it was an insidious way of endorsing the test-driven corporate reforms that Chancellor Tisch symbolizes while silencing its oppositions within the institution. In an open letter to graduating students, one professor wrote, “Merryl Tisch has ushered through the Board of Regents many policies with which I vehemently disagree; these include: decoupling teacher certification and master’s degrees from university-based teacher education (approving Relay Graduate School of Education); allowing InBloom to collect and sell private data on each K-12 student in New York State schools; and requiring all school districts to tie teacher evaluation to Value Added Measures based on student test scores.” In another letter, a group of graduating students called on their peers to engage in a peaceful protest: “Tisch is the antithesis of all we have learned as pre-service teachers during our time at TC. She contradicts the progressive ideals on which TC was founded. Her strict agenda to push high-stakes testing and tie teacher evaluations to student test scores directly conflicts with our values as caring, committed educators.”

    On the morning of May 21, a group of about ten student protesters with the support of a few parent activists distributed flyers (attached) widely to the faculty, graduates and their guests as they entered St. John the Divine to participate in the convocation. The flyer showed facts about Chancellor Tisch’s destructive education policies on one side and showed on the back a large sign that said “NOT A TEST SCORE,” a message against the testing regime she constructed in the state of NY. At this point, the protesters had no idea what was going to happen although they knew they had at least some supporters among the graduates and the faculty.

    Shortly after 10am, the team outside picked up a Twitter feed from a graduate participating in the convocation. It said “Hell yeah,” accompanied by a picture of graduates holding up “NOT A TEST SCORE” signs during Chancellor Tisch’s speech. Others tweets followed with hashtags of #NotMyTc and #notatestscore, revealing that the protest was indeed in progress. The outside team retweeted them and these were immediately picked up by education advocates such as Leonie Haimson, Sabrina Stevens, Bruce Baker as well as education blogs such as WNYC's School Book and @theChalkFace.

    This is what actually took place inside the convocation. During Chancellor Tisch’s speech, hundreds of students as well as faculty members sitting behind the podium held up the sign to express their disapprovals. One graduate reported, “It was a significant moment to remember. Seeing students and faculty proudly holding the signs while Tisch was looking confused and distressed was very powerful.” She also said, “I was siting in the back, so from my view I saw the majority of the Faculty holding the signs and a third of students facing Tisch with sign at high. She seemed emotionally affected. I would say she almost cried at the beginning.” One faculty member reported that over a half of the faculty held up the signs as well. Some even stood up to protest. One community member later described the view from the front: “It was a very profound experience. I looked back and I saw the sea of protest signs.”

    (Op-ed in progress. To be continued…)



    Daiyu Suzuki

    Co-founder, Edu4

    Doctoral Student, Teachers College


    Edu4 Project Team

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