Archives for category: Racism

Jan Resseger writes here to refute Trump and Betsy DeVos’s ridiculous claim that school choice is a “civil rights issue.” As she points out, charter schools and vouchers divert funding from the public schools that most children of color attend. School choice is responsible for budget cuts to public schools.

Privatized educational alternatives like charter schools and vouchers for private school tuition not only extract public funds needed in the public school system to serve 50 million American children, but they also undermine our rights as citizens and our children’s rights. Only in the public schools, which are governed democratically according to the law, can our society protect the rights of all children.

The late political philosopher, Benjamin Barber, warns about what we all lose when we try to privatize the public good: “Privatization is a kind of reverse social contract: it dissolves the bonds that tie us together into free communities and democratic republics. It puts us back in the state of nature where we possess a natural right to get whatever we can on our own, but at the same time lose any real ability to secure that to which we have a right. Private choices rest on individual power… personal skills… and personal luck. Public choices rest on civic rights and common responsibilities, and presume equal rights for all. Public liberty is what the power of common endeavor establishes, and hence presupposes that we have constituted ourselves as public citizens by opting into the social contract. With privatization, we are seduced back into the state of nature by the lure of private liberty and particular interest; but what we experience in the end is an environment in which the strong dominate the weak… the very dilemma which the original social contract was intended to address.” (Consumed, pp. 143-144)

What she does not mention is that the demand for school choice originated with Southern governors in response to the a Brown decision. From its origins, school choice was rooted in racism. Last year, Steve Suitts of the Southern Education Foundation wrote an important monograph about the origins of school choice. It was supposed to block civil rights, not advance them.

Recently there have been public debates about which statues should be removed, if any, and which should remain. The question naturally arises: where to draw the line? Eugene Robinson, columnist for the Washington Post, addresses that question here.

He writes:

The solution to the problem of Confederate memorials is simple: Tear them down, all of them. If a few must be left standing for practical reasons — the gigantic carvings on Stone Mountain outside Atlanta come to mind — authorities should allow them to be appropriately defaced, like the graffiti-scrawled remnants of the Berlin Wall.

The question of monuments to other white supremacists is more complicated, but it’s still not rocket science. As a society, we’re perfectly capable of deciding together which must go and which can stay. This supposed “slippery slope” isn’t really slippery at all.

There is no earthly reason any of this nation’s public spaces should be defiled by statuary honoring generals, soldiers and politicians who were traitors, who took up arms against their country, who did so to perpetuate slavery, and who — this is an important point — were losers.

This was clear even to Robert E. Lee, who opposed such monuments. “I think it wiser,” he wrote in 1869, declining an invitation to help decide where to erect memorials at Gettysburg, “not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”

Lee understood that the South had lost and slavery was gone. Most Confederate memorials were erected decades later, when white Southerners were reestablishing their repressive dominion over African Americans through the imposition of Jim Crow laws and a state-sponsored campaign of terrorism led by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Confederate monument in my hometown, Orangeburg, S.C., was dedicated in 1893. It is a statue of a rebel soldier atop a tall column, and the inscription, attributed to “the women of Orangeburg County” — though presumably only the white ones — calls it “a grateful tribute to the brave defenders of our rights, our honor and our homes.” The “rights” in question were to own human beings, including my ancestors, and compel their uncompensated labor. The point of erecting the monument was to reassert those “rights.” If the statue is a homage to anything, it’s hate. Take it down.

“Oh, but you’re erasing history,” defenders of such memorials always say. Nonsense. The monuments themselves are an attempt to rewrite history and assert white supremacy. Put them in some sort of Museum of Shame, if you must, but get them out of the public square.

“Oh, but if you start toppling statues, where does it all end?” defenders wail, rending their garments. This is not a hard problem to solve: It ends where we, as a nation, decide to draw the line between those historical figures who deserve to be so honored and those who do not.

There is an obvious difference between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who founded our union, and, say, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, who tried to destroy it. The fact that Washington, Jefferson and other early presidents owned slaves should temper our admiration for them but not erase it entirely. They gave us a nation grotesquely disfigured by slavery, but they also gave us the constitutional tools, and the high-minded ideals, with which to heal that original, near-fatal flaw.

Davis, Jackson and the rest of the Confederates gave us war, destruction and suffering, all in the service of white supremacy and African American subjugation. They deserve nothing but our eternal scorn.

White Southerners who consider the memorials a matter of “heritage” should realize that many Americans have ancestors who made poor choices. Like the Germans of the Third Reich, they merit familial respect but not public honor.

What about non-Confederate historical figures who were white supremacists? If every statue of a racist were taken down, we’d mostly have empty pediments and plinths. It should depend on the person, the context and the memorial itself.

A good example is the statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced will soon be taken down. The problem is not Roosevelt himself. He was relatively enlightened for his times: He invited civil rights leader Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House, for which he was pilloried. And he did much to preserve wildlife (when he wasn’t shooting it) and our natural wonders.

The problem is the statuary itself. Roosevelt is astride a horse, and flanking him — on foot, thus beneath the great man — are a Native American man on one side and an African man on the other. The tableau amounts to a visual parable of white supremacy.

We put statues in places of honor to depict our heroes and our values. Overt racism is not an idea we honor — not in relationships and not in bronze and marble. Not anymore.

Media Advisory
June 25, 2020
Pamela L. Pugh

Prominent Civil Rights Attorneys, Political Pundit, Public Education Advocates and Activists to Hold Education Justice Virtual Town Hall Amid National Uprising in Support of Racial Equity

WHAT: A virtual town hall about the state of public education and a call to end systemic racism and inequities in Michigan and the U.S. education system more broadly.

WHEN: Saturday, June 27 from 2:00 pm-3:15 p.m.
EST. Media is encouraged to attend.

WHO: A discussion featuring:

Benjamin Crump, National Civil Rights Attorney;
Nina Turner, National Co-Chair Bernie Sanders Campaign, Former Ohio State Senator, Professor;
Jamarria Hall, Student Plaintiff in Gary B. v Whitmer, Detroit Right to Literacy;
Helen Moore, Education Activist;
Thomas Pedroni, Associate Professor, Wayne State University;
Mark Rosenbaum, Director of Opportunity Under Law, Public Counsel Law Firm;
Pamela Pugh, Vice President, Michigan State Board of Education;
Lamar Lemmons, Former President, Detroit Public School District Board of Education.
Terrence Martin, Executive Vice President, Detroit Federation of Teachers

Register here:

For more information, you may also contact Pamela Pugh at

*Click to see The Detroit Equity Action Lab [DEAL] outline entitled, “White Supremacy & The Denial of Literacy, The 101 Guide” or Timeline and Status of the Detroit Right to Literacy case.


Marilee Coles-Ritchie is a teacher educator in Utah. She wrote this advice for her fellow educators and other concerned citizens in Utah but it is good advice for everyone.

Here are her recommendations:

1. Decrease standardized tests. They harm students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

2. Increase the numbers of teachers from these groups across the schools.

3. Eliminate all police officers in schools. Restorative justice empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own and in small groups. This strengthens school communities, prevents bullying, and reduces student conflicts. Early adoption has shown drastic reductions in suspension rates, and students report feeling more welcome, safe, and calm.

4. Require all students to take at least one course of history and literature of these groups.

5. Increase linguistic and cultural appreciation in all schools, diversifying the voices that are represented in the curriculum, with a goal of equity and inclusion.

While many primary races are too close to call, due to large numbers of uncounted absentee ballots, Jamaal Bowman scored a decisive upset in his race to replace veteran Cingresman Elliot Engel, chair of the House Foreigh affairs Committee.

Jamaal is/was a middle school principal who was active in the opt out movement. He received the endorsement of AOC, Sanders, Warren, and many others, including me.

Here is the speech he gave when his victory appeared certain.

Jamaal will be a strong, clear, and informed voice for the voiceless in Congress.

Alex Zimmerman of Chalkbeat wrote today that a spokesperson for Success Academy, New Tork City’s largest charter chain, resigned to protest “abusive” practices at the schools.

A spokesperson for New York City’s largest charter network resigned in protest, stating she can no longer defend Success Academy’s “racist and abusive practices” that are “detrimental to the emotional well being” of its students.

“I am resigning because I can no longer continue working for an organization that allows and rewards the systemic abuse of students, parents, and employees,” wrote Liz Baker, a Success spokesperson, in a resignation letter Tuesday.

“As the organization’s press associate, I no longer wish to defend Success Academy in response to any media inquiries,” she continued in the letter, which was obtained by Chalkbeat. “I do not believe that Success Academy has scholars’ best interests at heart, and I strongly believe that attending any Success Academy school is detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of children.”

The stunning resignation letter comes as the network has been besieged by complaints from employees, parents, and students about a culture that some argue is racist. Baker, who has worked at Success for about a year and four months, is one of the network’s most visible employees and was responsible for responding to reporters’ questions about the network.

Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” reports that today the very first SAT was administered on a trial basis. It was created by Professor Carl C. Brigham of Princeton, one of the founding psychologists of the IQ test. Brigham wrote one of the most notoriously racist, anti-immigrant books of the 1920s. Brigham asserted that wide scale IQ testing demonstrated that whites from Northern Europe were superior to immigrants from southern and Eastern Europe and to American blacks. His book, “A Study of American Intelligence,” helped the movement to restrict immigration and reinforced virulent racism.

TWA noted the day:

It was on this day in 1926 that 8,040 college applicants, in 353 locations around the U.S., were administered an experimental college admissions test. The test was the brainchild of Carl Brigham, a professor of psychology at Princeton. Brigham had been an assistant during World War I for the U.S. Army’s IQ testing movement, the “Army Alpha,” which assessed the intelligence of new recruits. After the war, he tinkered with the test, mainly making it more difficult, but also looking for a measurement of pure intelligence, regardless of the test-taker’s educational background. Just 4 years later, however, Brigham came to believe that the test scores represented not “pure intelligence,” but rather “a composite including schooling, family background, familiarity with English and everything else, relevant and irrelevant.” The Scholastic Aptitude Test, now known as the SAT, was formally adopted in 1942. Today’s test takes three hours to complete.

The College Board decided to make the switch on December 7, 1941, because of the Japanese attack on the American base at Pearl Harbor. The college presidents were meeting at Princeton that day and realized the US would soon be at war. There would be no time for essay-based exams. In 1942, machine-scored, multiple-choice tests replaced the old College Boards, which had been created, written and scored by teams of teachers and professors.

Jesse Hagopian is a high school teacher and social justice activist in Seattle. He has been a leading force on behalf of Black Lives Matter Movement.

He wrote this opinion article for the Seattle Times to explain why Seattle educators want money redirected from policing to social services.

He writes:

Seattle’s Education Association representative assembly — the union body that represents Seattle’s teachers, nurses, librarians, instructional assistants, office professionals and educational support staff — has overwhelmingly passed seven resolutions in solidarity with the movement for Black lives. These included removing police from schools and the King County Labor Council, (which was achieved by a recent vote of the council), educating SEA members on alternatives to calling 911 on students, and my own resolution to defund the Seattle Police Department and reinvest the money in education, health care and programs to support families.

These bold resolutions, adopted June 8, were surely spurred by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and the ensuing uprising that’s swept the nation. But this vote wasn’t only about injustices elsewhere. Seattle’s educators have been fighting institutional racism and the school-to-prison-pipeline here for some time.

In Seattle, our “Black Lives Matter at School” movement erupted September 2016. A white supremacist threatened to bomb John Muir Elementary School when the educators there — in conjunction with parents, community and the group “Black Men United to Change the Narrative” — declared they would celebrate Black students with an assembly, and by wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts to school.

Black Lives Matter at School then went national, thanks to educators in Philadelphia who organized a full week of action and broke down the 13 principles of the Black Lives Matter Global Network into teaching points for each day of the week. Last year, educators in more than 40 cities participated in BLM at School, reaching many thousands of students.

Each year, Seattle’s educators have voted to support the demands of the national Black Lives Matter at School week of action during the first week in February, including the fourth SEA demand, “Fund Counselors, Not Cops.” And when Seattle Public Schools parent Charleena Lyles was killed in her own home in front of her children by Seattle police department officers on June 18, 2017, the Seattle Education Association urged our members to wear their Black Lives Matter shirts to school and join a rally to stand with her family.

Building on that legacy, educators took a bold new step to call for a 50% cut from the $409 million already budgeted for the Seattle Police Department this year. Seattle educators now understand the words of Michelle Alexander, leading human-rights advocate and author of “The New Jim Crow,” who recently wrote:

After decades of reform, countless commissions and task forces, and millions of dollars poured into ‘smart on crime’ approaches, the police behave with about as much brutality today as they did in 1966 … More than 95% of arrests every year are for nonviolent offenses like loitering, fare evasion and theft.”

Yet the resolution passed by Seattle’s educators wasn’t simply about shrinking the size and malignancy of the police but about re-imagining justice, education, public safety and our society. The resolution also demands that,
“Seattle’s Mayor and City Council must protect and expand investments to make our communities safe, prioritizing community-led health and safety strategies. Full access to affordable housing, community-based anti-violence programs, trauma services and treatment, universal child care and free public transit are just a few of the non-police solutions to social problems.”

As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people. Whole people heal people.” Massive wealth inequality and structural racism are hurting people in our city and constitute the biggest threat to public safety. We now have an opportunity to make the kind of social investments in housing, education and health care to create whole and healthy communities and create new paradigms for addressing the root causes of violence.

Several Seattle-based organizations are already providing a restorative justice and community building approach to public safety, including Community Passageways, Safe Passage and Creative Justice. These programs provide such services as alternatives to youth incarceration, mentorship to youth who are involved with the legal system and staff trained in de-escalation techniques to help mediate conflicts, providing an alternative model for public safety. These and other programs are limited by their budgets, however, which pale in comparison to the funding lavished on the punitive system of policing.

Minneapolis has already vowed to dismantle its police force and start over with a new vision for investing in social workers, public-health workers and conflict mediators who are trained to care for people’s well-being.

Seattle’s educators have a lesson for city officials. We hope they are sitting up straight and taking notes: We can create safe and thriving communities by joining the growing number of cities who are re-appropriating funds from a punishment-based system and re-aiming them toward a new system that builds thriving communities.

Jesse Hagopian teaches Ethnic Studies and English Language Arts at Garfield High School, is an editor for Rethinking Schools, serves as the director for Black Education Matters and is the co-editor of the book “Teaching for Black Lives.” He is the recipient of the NAACP Youth Council’s 2019 Racial Justice Teacher of the Year award.

Standardized testing has been used in American schools for a century, though never on the scale of the past twenty years. It first was introduced into some schools as IQ tests, which were used (wrongly) to judge students’ innate ability and to assign them to different tracks, which then determined their life outcomes. I wrote about the IQ tests in my 2000 book “Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reforms.” The psychologists who created the tests believed that IQ was innate, inherited, and fixed. They asserted that the tests demonstrated the superiority of whites who spoke English well. Their views were welcomed and used by racists and anti-immigrant groups to support their policies. They were used to defend segregation and to restrict immigration. Their critics pointed out that the tests measured culture and life circumstances, not innate intelligence.

One of the psychologists who developed IQ tests and wrote a racist book about the results was Carl C. Brigham of Princeton. Brigham later created the prototype for the multiple-choice SAT in the 1930s, which replaced the essay-based “College Boards” in 1941.

Many schools used standardized tests in the second half of the twentieth century. Some states required periodic state tests, like the Iowa tests. No state required standardized testing every student every year until the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, based on George W. Bush’s assertion that there had been a “miracle” in Texas because of annual testing in grades 3-8.

We now know that there was never a miracle in Texas, but the every U.S. public school has been required to administer standardized tests since NCLB was signed into law on January 8, 2002.

When NCLB was re-authorized in 2015, there were demands to eliminate the testing mandate, but the Gates Foundation organized many of its recipients to insist on preserving the testing as a “civil right,” which was ironic in view of the racist and culturally biased history of standardized testing and its negative impact on marginalized groups. The new Every Student Succeeds Act preserves the annual testing. (Be it noted that every Democratic senator—including Sanders and Warren—on the Senate HELP Committee drafting the law voted in 2015 to preserve the most punitive aspects of NCLB, including the testing mandate, but the Murphy Amendment was voted down by Republicans).

Recently, Valerie Strauss wondered whether the nation’s obsession with standardized testing was ending due to the pandemic pause. While I share her enthusiasm to make the pause permanent, I know it won’t happen unless the federal law is changed. That requires sustained citizen action to counter the millions that the testing industry will certainly spend to preserve their economic interests.

She wrote:

America has been obsessed with student standardized tests for nearly 20 years. Now it looks like the country is at the beginning of the end of our high-stakes testing mania — both for K-12 “accountability” purposes and in college admissions.

When President George W. Bush signed the K-12 No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, the country began an experiment based on the belief that we could test our way to educational success and end the achievement gap. His successor, Barack Obama, ratcheted up the stakes of test scores under that same philosophy.
It didn’t work, which came as no surprise to teachers and other critics. They had long pointed to extensive research showing standardized test scores are most strongly correlated to a student’s life circumstances. Real reform, they said, means addressing students’ social and emotional needs and the conditions in which they live, and making improvements in school buildings.

Higher education was not immune to the testing frenzy, either, at least not in admissions. Scores on the SAT or ACT became an important factor in deciding who was accepted. College rankings — led by the annual lists of U.S. News & World Report, which were heavily weighted on test scores — became powerful as students relied on them and schools tried to improve their rankings with targeted reforms. Scholarship programs were linked to test scores, and some companies checked the scores of potential hires.

Florida spent millions of dollars to give bonuses to teachers with high SAT scores — even decades after the tests were taken.

Now, we are seeing the collapse of the two-decade-old bipartisan consensus among major policymakers that testing was the key lever for holding students, schools and teachers “accountable.”

And it is no coincidence that it is happening against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic that forced educational institutions to revamp how they operate.
States are learning they can live without them, having been given permission by the Department of Education to not give them this past spring. Georgia has already announced its intention to get a waiver for 2020-21, too.

A tsunami of colleges and universities have dropped the requirement for an ACT or SAT score for at least a year. The huge organizations that own the tests, ACT Inc. and the College Board, are clearly struggling in the new environment.
Even high-stakes law exams are starting to be waived. Washington state’s Supreme Court just decided to allow graduates from American Bar Association-accredited law schools who were registered to take the bar exam in July or September to be licensed without passing the test. The winning argument was that it would be too difficult for many students to study for and take the exam during the pandemic. The justices must have thought the education and grades the students received in law school were good enough.

Politically, too, the stars seem aligned for a serious de-escalation of testing. President Trump has never been a loud advocate for standardized testing and has repeatedly said his education priority is expanding alternatives to public school districts. His education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has not been a testing proponent either, with her eye instead on expanding school “choice.”

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and ahead of Trump in many polls, has tried to distance himself from the pro-testing policies of the Obama administration. He was not a cheerleader of testing during Obama’s two terms and has said recently he is opposed to high-stakes testing. That’s not a promise that he will work to reduce it, but it is a promising suggestion.

None of this means standardized testing will stop, or even that every state and district will cut back, or that all colleges and universities will stop requiring an SAT or ACT score to apply.

But here are some developments in the testing world that show that more policymakers understand tests can’t fix problems in schools — and that schools alone can’t fix the nation’s problems.

This past spring, K-12 school districts across the country did something that for nearly two decades had been deemed unthinkable.
With permission from the Education Department, they canceled annual high-stakes standardized testing after the covid-19 crisis upended the last several months of the school year.

Millions of students were at home, learning remotely either on paper or on screens. And state leaders realized it wasn’t plausible or fair to give students the tests.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) made the point that “the world will not come to an end” if the federally mandated tests weren’t given — though for years, federal and state policymakers had acted as if it would.

States require students to take standardized tests for different purposes. Some tests are mandated by K-12 law, and while that didn’t start with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), it ushered in the high-stakes testing era in which punishments were meted out to schools and teachers based on how well students performed on the exams. It didn’t matter that testing experts repeatedly warned that using scores for these purposes was not valid or reliable.

States give standardized tests, too, for reasons including third-grade retention, high school graduation, and end-of-course exams. A two-year study released in 2015 revealed that kids were being forced to take too many mandated standardized tests — and that there was no evidence that adding testing time was improving student achievement. The average student in America’s big-city public schools was then taking some 112 mandatory standardized tests between prekindergarten and the end of 12th grade — an average of about eight a year, the study said. Those were on top of teacher-written tests.

The purported goal of NCLB — written with the input of not a single public school teacher — was to ensure that marginalized communities were not ignored by looking at test scores by student subgroups and targeting help where it was needed. Schools concentrated on math and English so students could pass the exams while giving short shrift to, or eliminating, classes in history, science, art, music, physical education and other subjects.

Public education advocates hoped Obama would stop the country’s obsession with standardized tests and address inequity baked into the funding system. His administration instead heightened the importance of the test scores by dangling federal funds in front of states that agreed to evaluate teachers through the exam results. States developed cockamamie schemes to do this, including grading teachers on students they didn’t have and subjects they didn’t teach.

A grass-roots effort to get the administration to change course took hold, and some states tried to find ways to cut back on local testing. But then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan micromanaged education policy so much that the department was derided as a “national school board,” and Congress, in late 2015 — eight years after it was supposed to — passed a successor law that sent policymaking largely back to the states.

By early 2016, Obama and his second education secretary, John B. King Jr., said kids were, after all, over-tested. Still, the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), mandated the same testing regime, and states were still spending millions of dollars each year on testing programs.
Ostensibly, the tests would provide data to schools about what students had learned and how effective teachers were.

But research study after study showed that the highest correlation was between the scores and whether a child lived in poverty.
This all made DeWine’s statement about the world not coming to an end if tests were suspended for a year an unusual admission.

On June 18, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) made it clear he doesn’t think missing two years of standardized testing is a big problem, either.
This past spring, DeVos gave all states a one-year waiver to suspend the federally mandated testing. Kemp announced that his state would be the first to seek a second testing waiver from the Education Department, this time for the soon-to-start 2020-21 school year.

Other states are likely to follow suit amid so much uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic.
Kemp also said that the “current high-stakes testing regime is excessive,” and promised to keep pushing an initiative in the state legislature to eliminate four of eight end-of-course exams required for high school students, and another standardized test given in middle school.

Georgia isn’t the only state that is now moving to cut back on standardized testing. In late May, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation to reduce standardized testing.

What could make this effort to cut testing different from earlier ones are the outside circumstances.

Because of the pandemic, states and school districts are facing potentially unprecedented budget deficits — and school spending in some states has still not recovered from the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
Because testing programs are extremely expensive, states could decide the costs aren’t worth the dubious results. Many teachers say they don’t need standardized tests to help them assess where students are in their learning.

Add to that the effects of the national uprising for racial justice, sparked by the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.
Protesters in the streets are looking for justice not only in policing and the courts. They also want social, economic and educational justice.

Though educators have long known that students need more than tests to thrive and that schools must address more than academics, there is a new awareness among the people who make policy.
Spending mountains of money for inequitable testing accountability systems isn’t compatible with calls for more holistic ways of educating and helping students grow and thrive.

College admissions
On the higher education front, the pandemic also interrupted the SAT/ACT college admissions testing juggernaut.
With exam days canceled and aspiring college students getting frantic about not having a score to add to their applications, many colleges and universities said they would drop their requirements for an SAT or ACT test score for admission in fall 2021.

To be sure, a “test-optional” movement had been building for years. A nonprofit group called the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), which operated on a shoestring budget with a mission to end the misuse of standardized tests, worked with testing critics and compiled a list of colleges and universities that had dropped the use of ACT or SAT scores for admissions.
Hundreds of schools had already done so, as research showed the test scores were linked to socio-economic factors and not predictive of college success, despite counter statements by the College Board and ACT Inc.

Then the pandemic hit. Schools shut down and college students went home to finish their semesters virtually. The two testing giants canceled repeated administrations of their exams, losing millions of dollars and making it difficult for many students to get a score required by most institutions of higher education.

The inevitable happened: Colleges and universities announced suspensions of testing requirements for 2020-21. Some said they would not require tests for a few years as an experiment to see how the admissions process would do without them.

Then, in May, in what was called a seminal event in college admissions, the University of California system announced it would phase out SAT/ACT testing requirements over several years, with some members of the Board of Regents saying the tests were not helpful in creating diverse student bodies and one member labeling them “racist.” The prestigious system has long been a force in public higher education, and its decision is expected to influence other schools.
By mid-June, every Ivy League school had agreed to drop SAT/ACT requirements for students entering in the fall of 2020. FairTest’s list includes more than 1,250 schools that in some way allow students leeway in including test scores on their applications, albeit some of them just for 2020-21. (The list includes for-profit schools.)

The College Board and ACT have been struggling during the pandemic. Both were forced to cancel multiple administrations of the SAT and ACT, losing millions of dollars and leaving many students fearful they wouldn’t have a score for applications. Both promised they would offer at-home exams this fall if necessary, but the College Board backed off after its experiment with at-home Advanced Placement tests.
Though most students had no problem taking the AP tests, thousands did, and the College Board decided not to try an at-home SAT.

The ACT said it will go ahead, but the Iowa-based organization has other problems.
In May, ACT chief executive Marten Roorda, who aggressively lobbied against the UC decision, lost his job. At the same time, ACT announced it was taking “a series of cost-cutting measures,” including no raises and cuts in fringe benefits.

Meanwhile students trying in May to sign up for future AP and SAT exams, should they be given, ran into online trouble.

The fundamental notion that standardized testing is an effective way of gauging student achievement is being challenged more strongly than ever.
Some K-12 schools will continue to use these exams extensively, seeing them as a valuable tool, including in Florida, where former governor Jeb Bush (R) pioneered high-stakes accountability testing and still has influence in education policy.

And many colleges and universities will require admissions test scores, seeing them as a useful data point in making decisions on whom to admit.

But the combination of the pandemic, the uprising and disillusionment with the testing industry — which has been building among teachers, parents and students for years — points to a new chapter for public education, or, at least, the beginning of the end of our obsession with high-stakes standardized tests.

In response to the murder of George Floyd, as well as the murders of other African Americans in recent months, the media, historians, teachers, and others are reviewing the long history of vicious racism in this country and calling for structural changes. The challenge of our time is to look deeply into our institutions and not let this moment of reckoning with our racist attitudes and institutions fade away without meaningful change. No American should have to fear for their life and safety because of the color of their skin.

Paul Horton, acted her and historian at the University of Chicago Lab School (a unionized private school), shared this essay about her history:

Just a teacher-historian sharing history who spent hundreds of hours as a graduate student researching the KKK Reports, the set of published congressional investigations into the KKK and affiliated organizations during Reconstruction.

Yesterday, Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative published a report that estimates that over 2,000 blacks were murdered during Reconstruction for political activities associated with organizing for the party of Lincoln in the American South from 1865-1877. The Democratic Party in the South at this time and later referred to itself as “the party of the white man,” and the KKK was its paramilitary arm during and after Reconstruction, extending into the Civil Rights era.

NAACP founder and chief researcher, W.E.B. Dubois, published a similar estimate of murders of black people in the South during the Jim Crow era. Historians Elizabeth Hale and Phillip Dray and many others have documented Southern ritualized violence within the context of “constructing whiteness” as a unifying identity that was intended create what historian George Frederickson called a”herrenfolk democracy” that united poor, middle class, and wealthy Southern whites behind common white identity. It is important to draw the connection between the construction of Confederate monuments within the context of this racial violence. These monuments were constructed in the early twentieth century as black bodies were being lynched and mutilated in spectacles that often were witnessed by hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of whites of all social classes.

What we are witnessing today has to be seen within this context. During Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era, tens of thousands of black Americans were sent to convict labor camps, most often on trumped up minor offences like loitering or not possessing a work contract. The intent of state officials in building these labor camps was to remove freedman from Southern cities. Those successful blacks who would not leave were subjected to “white riots” that destroyed black middle-class areas of New Orleans and Memphis in 1866; Colfax, Louisiana in response to the legitimate election of a Radical Republican county slate (1873), Wilmington, North Carolina, a white supremacist coup (1898); and Elaine, Arkansas where dozens who farmers were murdered for attempting to form a union (1919). Black areas were torched in East St. Louis (1917) Chicago (1919), Omaha (1919), Washington D.C. (1919). and Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921) in the wake of WWI when black soldiers returning home from a “war to make the world safe for democracy” began to assert their labor and civil rights. The entire town of Rosewood, Florida was torched during the first week of 1923 for similar reasons. The context surrounding the Rosewood massacre was the subject of a feature film directed by John Singleton in 1997. Most of the eyewitnesses to the massacre were murdered, but historians estimate the number killed to range from 27-200.

Massacres of hundreds of blacks also took place during the Civil War when black union soldiers and their officers were routinely murdered after surrendering because the Confederate government had a policy of “no quarter” for the USCT. This is why the phrase “no quarter” used by senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas in a recent NYT OpEd is so offensive to many. One hundred and eighty-two USCT (black) soldiers of the 1st Kansas Union regiment were killed, most after they had surrendered at Poison Spring, Arkansas in 1864. To this day, many in Arkansas refer to the ‘battle of Poison Spring” without mentioning the massacre that took place after black troops laid down their arms. The massacre at Fort Pillow, Tennessee was the bloodiest massacre of surrendered African American soldiers and their officers during the war. The total number of black soldiers killed after they surrendered most historians now believe ranges from two hundred to four hundred. (To learn more about Fort Pillow, see Paul Horton, “A Model for Teaching Secondary History: The Case of Fort Pillow,” The History Teacher, 2000)

Most of us know about the violence of slavery, but few of us outside of the Black community fully understand the level of violence that black people have experienced after “freedom.” Police and vigilante murders of unarmed black men have a long, sordid history in the United States after the Civil War. The Civil Rights Movement did not make this go away. Police departments all over the country must be trained in this long history, use of deadly force must be severely restricted, our public and private prisons, which resemble Reconstruction work camps that are used to profit investors, must be tightly regulated and house only violent offenders.

Rather than simply dismissing calls for “abolition” and “defunding the police,” in light of our renewed attention to the systematic violence committed against black people in this country, we need to enter into a serious dialogue that creates lasting reforms that go beyond getting rid of symbols and statues. These reforms must result in substantial legal changes at all levels of government and a citizen sponsored reconstitution of policing at every level.

If you would like to learn more about the KKK and Reconstruction violence against educators and those, black and white, who stood for racial and civil justice, you can study the documented evidence for yourselves. The following linked article will describe how you can get to the KKK Reports digitally: