Julian Vasquez Heilig recently delivered the Social Justice Keynote for The California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators (CALSA). He posted his remarks on his excellent blog, Cloaking Inequity.

Heilig reviews the racist history of standardized testing and its use to sort people by their socioeconomic status. He refers to court cases brought by civil rights groups in opposition to the use of standardized tests for high-stakes decisions.

Then he proposes an alternative means of assessing school quality, which he calls “local accountability” or “community-based reform,” using multiple measures and reflecting the ideas,, values, and priorities of local communities.

He writes (and says):

“We must press for community-based reforms in the public discourse instead of top-down, privately controlled reforms.

“We can utilize community-based, democratic approaches to student and teacher assessment.

“We must also support stakeholder collaboratives such as community-based charters instead of corporate based charters.

“We must do this because democratic control of public schools drives the health of our democracy!…..

“Community-based reform and policy changes the conversation from educators and local stakeholders as the “problem” by instead re-empowering them as the solution and strengthening the thread that links communities to vibrant, participatory neighborhood public schools.”