This post is part of The Nation’s biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on youth organizing. For recent dispatches, check out February 11 and February 20. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).
1. The Weeklong Walkout—and More
On Monday, February 23, at 10:25 AM, 250 students from Santa Fe, New Mexico, walked out to protest the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, the new high-stakes standardized test that 11 states have adopted. Some of us met with Superintendent Joel Boyd, who urged us to write letters to Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera and promised he would personally deliver them. The following day, we walked out again—this time, meeting at Skandera’s office, who declined to meet with us—followed by a smaller walkout, with the same result, on Wednesday. On Friday, we converged on the governors office, where we held a silent sit-in and delivered handwritten petitions. Then, inside, we watched several Democratic senators articulate problems with the extreme testing regime, including its monopolization of instructional time, privatization agenda, technological failures and boon to corporations like Pearson at the expense of real learning. Meanwhile, two Santa Fe High student protest leaders spoke in the capitol rotunda about our concerns with the PARCC tests and our goal to expand the new Academy of Sustainability Education that launched on our campus this year. This week, Senate Education Chair John Sapien has agreed to meet—while thousands of students are set to walk out across the state during PARCC testing.
2. The 72-Hour Takeover
For more than nine months, state-appointed Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson has persistently ignored the call of students, parents and community members for an end to the One Newark plan, her immediate resignation and full local control of schools. On February 17, eight members of the Newark Students Union took over Anderson’s office for 72 hours. We organized rallies inside and received support from allies across the country. When Anderson met with us 65 hours in, we implored her to attend the next public board meeting, which took place on February 24. She didn’t show up, showing us, once again, that she does not have the welfare of the community or students in mind.