One of Seattle’s top secondary institutions, Garfield High School—home to one of the country’s premier youth jazz bands, and the alma mater of Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones and activist rapperMacklemore—has a mutiny on its hands. Students are refusing to sit for exams, or else completing their tests in just nine seconds. But if you’re picturing unruly classrooms filled with delinquents, think again.
In fact, it’s the teachers who, in a unanimous vote in January, have rebelled against Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), the mandated standardized tests that, they argue, cut into classroom hours, negatively affect minority and low-income students with less access to technology at home, and ultimately provide poor measures of student performance. Despite threats of suspension without pay, the teachers have not backed down.
Following their lead, the students have played a part in the effort, distributing flyers that announce the ability of parents and guardians to opt their kids out of MAP. On February 5, the first day of a three-week period designated for testing, less than a quarter of the 400 scheduled to take the exam did so. Of those who sat for the test, many sabotaged the process. The next day, the Seattle NAACP sponsored a rally in support of eliminating MAP. Superintendent José Banda blames the boycott for making people forget that “this really is about students.” But the students’ support for their teachers, in words and action, suggests otherwise.