Last spring, The Nation launched its biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts ten first-person updates on youth organizing in the United States—from established student unions, to emerging national networks, to ad hoc campaigns that don’t yet have a name. For January updates, check out the previous post. For an archive of earlier editions, see the New Year’s dispatch.
1. As Portland Prepares to Strike, Thousands of Students Hit the Streets
On February 5, the Portland Student Union held a day of action in solidarity with the Portland Association of Teachers in support of its vote to authorize a strike. Six schools and more than 1,000 students participated, ranging from lunch-time rallies to walkouts to marches through downtown and southeast Portland. The students’ marches passed local elementary and middle schools, defying police attempts to block roadways. Later that night, more than 200 students, parents and workers rallied outside the PAT’s meeting in sub-freezing conditions. The vote was nearly unanimous, with a strike set for February 20.
—Portland Student Union
2. As Providence’s High-Stakes Experiment Continues, Guinea Pigs Fly
On January 29, Providence students, dressed like guinea pigs and lab rats, flooded the Rhode Island state house to protest the state’s new standardized testing experiment, which turns the state assessment, or NECAP, into a make-or-break graduation requirement. Armed with whiskers, animal ears and paws, members of the Providence Student Union called out the state department of education for treating students like lab animals. This demonstration was the latest in a series of youth actions demanding Rhode Island replace its high-stakes policies with proven, evidence-based assessments and investments. From challenging public officials to take the test themselves, to organizing zombie protests, to sitting in, the union will continue its “More Than a Test Score” campaign for assessment policies that support, rather than punish, young people.