Back in January, I was asked to be one of many interviewees for Michael Elliot’s short film (5 minutes) about New Jersey’s test refusal movement, which kicked into high gear this January as the state began gearing up for the PARCC tests (which begin tomorrow here in Montclair). The film was released today. If I was more technologically savvy, I’d embed it here, but just click on the link — and please watch it — it it definitely worth seeing.
Michael shot over 25 hours of video for the final 5 minute product. He did a great job editing together a wide range of voices united around a common theme. This afternoon, Montclair Cares About Schools hosted a premiere event for the film with Michael. I attended along with my family and many of the other people whose voices contributed to the film. We had a full house despite the snowy weather.
One of the key takeaways for me — both from the film itself and from the event today — is how many people from all walks of life have united together to protest the destruction high-stakes tests are forcing on our schools.
It was great to meet Daryn Martin, the PTO president of Ivy Hill Elementary School, who was arrested last year in connection with his advocacy in opposition to Cami Anderson’s destructive policies in Newark.
I was glad that Okaikor Aryee-Price’s daughter, Saige, and my daughter finally got the chance to meet in person, as they are two of the children who have spoken out publicly against what they’re seeing happening in their schools.
I was honored to be one of the parents from Montclair who made it to the final cut of the film, although Colleen Daly Martinez and my neighbor and friend Belinda Edmonson were both far more eloquent than I could ever hope to be.
It was terrific to reconnect with Tanaisa Brown of the Newark Students Union, who was one of the brave students who spent days camping out in Cami Anderson’s office in an attempt to force her to listen to the voices of students in her district.
Arne Duncan, I can tell you this much: the test refusal movement is far more than a few discontented “white suburban moms.” People from across the economic, racial, and political spectrum are uniting to speak out against the destructive “reforms” that are decimating our public schools.
Here are a few photos from the event. I highly encourage you to check out the film.