Washington teacher gains insight by refusing to give WASL test... Teacher says 'No!' to high-stakes tests

Washington teacher gains insight by

refusing to give WASL test

[Editor’s note: The following is an interview with Washington teacher Carl Chew, who refused to administer the Washington State WASL test in April and have been speaking out against high-stakes testing since. Portions of this interview have already been published on-line, and are used here with permission. The interview was conducted by Yvonne Siu-Runyan, whose bio appears at the end of this interview].

YSR: Thank you, Carl, for allowing me to interview you.

CC: You are welcome, Yvonne.

YSR: Carl, I think it is important that people know about your background for you are unique and showed great courage in refusing to give your students the WASL, Washington State’s high stakes testing. Would you be willing to answer some questions?

CC: I’d be delighted.

Turning 60, A Pivotal Year: Increased Consciousness

YSR: Let’s start with where you were born and in what year. I think your age is important to share with our readers.

CC: I was born in Urbana, Illinois in 1948. I recently turned 60.

Carl Chew’s Younger Years:

Important Information

YSR: How would you describe yourself as a student?

CC: Well, I was not what you would call the best student. I struggled with reading and spelling. I had a hard time sitting still in my seat. My parents and teachers worried about me.

YSR: Was there anything in school in which you excelled?

CC: Yes, I enjoyed doing art. In fact, one day when I was in elementary school, two teachers stopped to admire a water color painting I had done of a banana tree. This painting was put on a bulletin board in the hall. I heard the teachers remark about how colorful and vibrant my painting of the banana tree was, and it felt good to have something I did admired by teachers. You know, I did not excel in reading and spelling.

YSR: For how long did your parents and teachers worry about your academic achievement?

CC: From elementary school all the way through high school.

YSR: Was there any good experiences besides art that you had in school?

Learning = Helping One Another & In the Process One Also Learns

CC: Oh yes! I went to a one-room schoolhouse when my family moved from California to Arizona. We lived in the Chiricahua Mountains. My teacher, Mrs. Reed was such a kind and gentle soul. In this one-room schoolhouse, we just helped one another. There was little competition. Instead the environment was accepting, loving, and encouraging. There were only a total of 25 students in this little one-room elementary school. I was one of two sixth graders and I loved going to school.

YSR: Why?

CC: Because I was accepted, and I was able to help the younger students learn, and because of that I also learned. I also loved living in the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona. My best friend, Phil, the other sixth grader and I would spend every waking hour hiking, riding our horses, looking for and finding Apache Indian arrowheads and pottery chards, jumping into rushing creeks, and climbing high up in the mountains to the numerous caves.

YSR: What happened after you left this one-room schoolhouse?

CC: My family moved back California and we lived in Santa Monica. My mother got a job teaching biology at Santa Monica City College. I went to the new middle school there right next to where we lived.

YSR: How was this experience?

CC: I liked it. But, I still was not what you might call a stellar student. I couldn’t spell very well. Everyone was still worried about my academic ability. My potential was still hidden. But, I enjoyed going to school.

YSR: And what about high school?

CC: I went to the school we referred to as SAMO High School. I was put in college prep classes. I played goalie on the water polo team, lived to surf and fish. And I was terribly shy and suffered from horrible acne. But, I had good friends who supported me. My favorite teacher was Ms. Waldroop, who taught with humor and creativity, and who was young and very pretty. I fell in love with Ms. Waldroop. I enjoyed my first three years at this school. Then I had a wonderful thing happen to me. In early 1964, I spent six months living with a friend’s family in Bogota, Columbia. I attended the International School. I loved going to school, but I still was not a great speller. I polished my ability to speak Spanish and saw how some of the poorest people in the world lived. But, then in the fall of 1964, I returned to Santa Monica and I encountered some real trouble.

YSR: Can you tell us a little bit about this?

The Making of An Activist.

CC: Well, I hated my senior Civics teacher. Mr. Siffert made us listen to hours and hours and hours of tape recordings of some pilot who had been imprisoned by the North Koreans during the Korean War. He made us take these tests and tell how the U.S. was so great and Communism was so horrible. If we digressed from the official line, we would be marked down. It was also the beginning of the Vietnam War, and my friends and I were against this war.

One day, I snapped and threw all the test papers in the air and yelled, “Glurch,” and then I ran out of the room, slamming the door so hard the doorknob put a hole in the wall. I was suspended from school. When I returned to school, my parents and I had to meet with the school principal. Mr. Siffert was there with a letter in red ink, which told what an awful person I was. My parents and I were told that this letter would be put into my permanent record for everyone to see forever. I remember my parents chuckling when Mr. Siffert said that. It was nice to have my parents on my side.

The other thing I remember about high school, but only after graduating did I realize this. The high school was horribly segregated. If you were from the dominant White culture, you were automatically put into college prep courses. Guess that’s why I was taking college prep courses. But if a student was not from the dominant White culture, then the school counselors would tell the kids that they would never go to college, because they either couldn’t afford it or they weren’t smart enough. So, why not learn a trade instead? The kids of color disappeared to the other side of campus with the shop and remedial classes, never to be seen again. This knowledge has always weighed heavily on me.

Learning: The Journey of Discovering Oneself, A Lifelong Process

YSR: So after you graduated from high school, what was next for you?

CC: For lack of understanding anything about myself or what I wanted to do, I started college at USC in biology. I was crazy about fishing and thought I would enjoy being a marine biologist. I spent many weeks out on the USC marine biology boat, the Valero, sorting muddy squirmy things dredged up from thousands of feet down. I loved to lie awake for hours in the night on the bow, watching the glowing phytoplankton outlines of dolphins and sharks crisscross in front of the ship.

In 1967, I transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle as a junior in zoology. Sadly, what I thought was going to be a great opportunity to continue my marine biology interests, was non existent for undergrads. I survived my two years, but became disillusioned and ultimately more interested in the visual arts. I failed to graduate by two credits—I had taken a “Philosophy of Science” pass/fail the last quarter and lo and behold, I got the direction of Zeno’s arrows wrong on the final and failed. I had never failed a class or gotten a D in my life. I was surprised that even after I told my woeful story to the administration they still would not let me graduate.

In the end it was a stroke of genius, really. I had met a professor I liked in the art department, Bill Ritchie. I began just hanging around working with him and learning about printmaking and video. I had never felt so much excitement, except maybe when I overheard the teachers talking about my banana tree painting in elementary school. Bill and I began collaborating and I knew I had found a calling.

I had to take a few more undergraduate classes to finally graduate in zoology, and then I applied to the MFA program. I was accepted and began in 1973. The department was a bit stodgy with dominant painting and sculpture programs. Bill was guiding a number of us to work in video, sound, printmaking—real multi-media stuff. Some of the other professors were down right furious. One cubist professor repeatedly came into my studio to demand that I master painting first, because I could never be an artist without knowing how to paint. Actually, I could paint just fine, but I wasn’t about to let him know that. I graduated with my degree in 1975. There weren’t a lot of teaching jobs at the time and there was an overabundance of MFA graduates scrapping over them, so I decided to just go be an artist.

I was an artist for 25 years. It was not an easy career, but at the same time, you sort of get used to living on the edge and you learn that things will work out. At first I had to work part-time to make ends meet. I cleaned houses, did cold sales for an art gallery, and picked up cash from winning little prizes at local art fairs. Eventually I was able to just concentrate on my art. I won’t go into that here, but you can see about 30% of what I did at

My place as an artist in the NW became accepted and because of it I was able to accomplish some other important things: I was the president of the board of the preschool where my older daughter attended. I was on the board of and/or, an innovative and respected multidisciplinary art space in Seattle. I was a Seattle Arts Commissioner from 1989 to 1992. I consulted for the Washington Arts in Education Commission. I volunteered and helped AIDS Housing of Washington develop plans for their historic Baily-Boushay House in Seattle.

Becoming A Teacher: Finding Excitement in Helping the Young Discover and Uncover Others and Self

YSR: Why did you go into teaching?

CC: In 1998, I decided for a whole horde of reasons that being an artist was no longer the right thing for me to do. I went through a period of abject fear, not knowing what direction to turn. I did know one thing though — I had always wanted to be a teacher. At the time, my youngest daughter was in preschool and I found myself spending more and more time volunteering. I began to feel the excitement filling up my being again.

So, in 1999 I decided to go back to school to get my teaching certificate. Pacific Oaks had a branch campus in Seattle, and when I read about their commitment to children, diversity, activism, and progressive pedagogy I knew I had to go there. I began their program in the summer of that year. Whew, it was intense!

The readings were amazing. I read the scholarly works of Antonia Darder, Paulo Freire, Sonja Nieto, Lisa Delpit, Howard Gardner, Herbert Kohl, Jonathan Kozol, John Dewey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, Lucy McCormick Calkins, Alfie Kohn, Nathan McCall, and Gary Howard, to name a few. These educators influenced me deeply. Their works shaped me, thankfully.

I did my student teaching at two schools, a kindergarten class in a pretty much White middle class alternative school, and a 5th grade class in a predominately African American school. When I graduated I was under the fond impression that I wanted to teach kindergarten.

Making a Difference: Standing Tall for Students—Educare, Leading Out

YSR: In what areas did you teach? And what as it like for you when you started teaching? How many years in those various positions?

CC: Beginning in September 2000, I was offered a long-term sub job teaching 5th grade at the school where I had done the 5th grade internship. The teacher I was filling in for had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer, and tragically she died within a few months. This was truly sad and such a lost.

But, the students liked me and really respected my teaching

style. We got along terrifically. I had a flaw though — I thought the kids deserved recess in the afternoon. The principal called me into her office a number of times to order me to stop. “Those kids can play at home! When they are at school they are to be learning at all times. Now, don’t take them out to play in the afternoon.” I am sorry to say that I simply could not destroy those children by keeping them cooped up except for lunch. They needed that fresh air and exercise to help them focus in class. It was always a bit weird to be the only teacher out on this big playfield with my class. Only one other teacher took his students out once in awhile, the one with whom I had interned.

It was sometime in the early winter that I was summoned down to the principal’s office. I should have known something was up—all the lights were turned down low. She did not give any reason for my being let go, even though she had promised the position to me when it came up to hire, but I have always suspected that it was because I took those children out for recess.

The rest of the school year I subbed here and there all over the district. I had particular fun subbing in kindergarten classes, except for the fact that in the afternoon, no matter how hard I tried, the warm friendly ambience of those awesome little children would make me so very sleepy that on some days I didn’t think I could stay awake. I decided that I had better teach older children because their level of activity seemed to keep me on my toes.

The next school year I was offered a position at Graham Hill Elementary in south Seattle. You can see a few pictures of my class, good old portable 10 here: Portable. I absolutely loved teaching there. Those kids were so full of life and energy. Being in a portable, we were all able to just let the enthusiasm loose!

We made a movie one year, illustrated and wrote several poetry and scientific books, did service learning, wrote songs, and made a museum. I taught there for 3 years total and then decided to take a break to recover from, as we teachers say, a crazy parent. There were numerous incidents with that particular abusive parent, and by the end of the school year I was struggling with feelings of extreme vulnerability to accusation and rumor. So, I decided for my own sanity, to take a leave of absence.

YSR: What did you do during this time?

CC: During the first six months of my leave of absence, I wrote, played music, and dabbled in the visual arts.

By November though, I was ready to get back into a classroom. I decided that high school might be a safer place. The rest of that school year I subbed in three different high schools in Seattle. The experience was generally not so great, although I did enjoy filling in for both of the art teachers at one of the schools. So, during the summer I began to apply for jobs. One possibility I was thrilled about was teaching art at NOVA, a very interesting alternative high school. Unfortunately they had to cancel their plans for the position due to lack of funds. I was eventually offered a science position at the middle school where I am teaching now. I was highly skeptical that it would work out—rarely did I hear anyone say anything positive about middle school students. Days came and went. Every evening my wife would ask how it was going, with expectations that I would eventually crash and burn, I am sure. But, I was actually enjoying it: I was really having fun with my students and helping them learn.

YSR: Why did you decide that you needed to take a stand with regards to giving the high stakes tests in your state? I mean, what went through you mind? How long did this decision fester in your insides?

CC: As a student at PONW, and then every year after I was offended by all of the big achievement tests I had to give. With each test I would promise myself, never again. I remembered my own frustrating history with them as a child.

So I started reading about the NCLB Act and high stakes testing. Everything I read, everyone I talked too, every student I ever taught all had the same negative impression of their worth. Starting with IQ testing in the early 1900’s, through the development of the SAT, and up to the present with each state weighing in with their own high stakes test to comply with NCLB, it has been a hoax perpetrated on the American public. Nicholas Lemann’s The Big Test is a wonderful book telling part of this story. Alfie Kohn is another educator whose work I admire. Kohn exposed to me the nonsense of testing.

An Act of Conscience

YSR: What exactly did you do when you decided to stop giving the high stakes tests?

CC: The day I made my decision not to give the WASL was Wednesday, April 9th. I knew that I had to go up to the library to pick up my test box. It was my prep time and I was in a bit of a rush. I went to the library where the test booklets were. I saw the test booklets spread out all over the library. When I realized that I was going to have to go around and find the individual tests for each of my students, I was somewhat mortified. My conscience bothered me. I thought, “How can I continue to do something I think is harmful for my students?”

I walked to my classroom, and on the way I reminded myself that I had always pretended that I would resist someday. My conscience told me that for the sake of my students, for the sake of education, and for the sake of our fragile democracy, I simply had to stop giving the WASL. Though nervous and somewhat scared, I nevertheless, sat down at my computer and typed a short e-mail to the teachers and administration saying that I could no longer give the WASL. I stared at this e-mail for quite a long time, knowing full well if I sent this e-mail, there could be many unforeseen consequences—both good and bad.

I knew I had the courage to take this stand, and I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t get upset if they slapped my wrists or took my job. So, I took a deep breath, and I pressed the send button.

The fallout from Chew’s Act of Civil Disobedience: Chew’s Bravery & Concern for Youth and Our Fragile Democracy

YSR: What was the “fallout?” I mean what did the administration do to you because you resisted and didn’t comply?

CC: I can’t remember exactly how many milliseconds it took the principal to get to my room, but there she was. She was pretty unhappy with me. We had an honest chat. She learned that I was performing my act of civil disobedience based on the personal and professional moral and ethical concerns I had with the WASL and NCLB. She tried to convince me to change my mind, because refusing to administer the test would disrupt my students and the school.

YSR: What did you say to your school principal?

CC: I told her I was aware that not administering the WASL would disrupt my students and the school. I also explained that I was in reality trying to help students, teachers, and administrators everywhere. She then informed me that she thought the school district might terminate me. I explained to the school principal that any consequences were the business of the school district, and that I preferred to stay working at school during testing. I explained that I would perform any non-WASL function. On Thursday and Friday, I had numerous meetings with the principal and other school administrators, all of them trying to convince me one way or the other to reconsider.

YSR: And then...

CC: I received a letter from the principal and the school district on Friday afternoon. It reiterated the district’s point of view that I had been given an order to administer the WASL by a supervisor, my principal, and that if I failed to follow through, I would be removed from the classroom with serious consequences. This correspondence also stated that the letter was being put in my permanent file. I was reminded of the letter written in red ink by my high school civics teacher, which also ended up in my permanent record. Ho hum.

Five days after my announcement was Monday. This day came and went quietly. It was quite surreal really. I wrote on my blackboard, “Dear Fantastic Students, I have something important to do tomorrow and for a few days thereafter, so I may not be here during the testing. Please treat the guest teacher with respect and do your best on the WASL.” My intent was to be sensitive to my students needs at the moment — I wasn’t protesting to get them all riled up. I knew they would learn soon enough what was happening.

Half way through this Monday, my teaching assistant came to me and said, “You look sad to me. Is everything all right?” How astute is that! I let her know that I couldn’t tell her what was happening, but that I thought she would be proud of me when she found out.

Tuesday morning arrived — April 15, 2008, the first day to give the WASL. I spent much of the early morning hours preparing for the substitute who I knew would eventually show up to give the test. I prepared notes about my classes and a short lesson plan to keep students learning between testing periods. This was something I didn’t have to do, since I knew they were going to suspend me, but what teacher can leave their classroom without great prangs of angst?

When the bell rang I took attendance, welcomed the guest teacher and introduced her to my class. Waiting outside my door were the principal and chief academic officer for the district. I left the classroom and chatted briefly with them. I was instructed to report to the district’s Science Materials Center where I would work until they figured out “what to do with me.”

The SMC is a giant chilly warehouse where science kits for Seattle public schools are assembled, restocked, and stored. I was not adequately dressed for the cold, so I was allowed to work in the heated office. The first thing I did was ask the staff if they knew why I was there. I was worried they might think I was being investigated for a crime or something. I told them that I had been banished for refusing to give the WASL. Immediately they were around congratulating me for my bravery. I dare say we got along terrifically for the two and a half days I worked there. During my stay I did a few of the jobs they do day in and day out. I sorted preschool blocks. I took a giant piece of burlap and cut it into a million 1x1 inch squares. I cleaned marking pen and tape off of paper human body organs and repackaged them. Yes, some of it was pretty tedious. It certainly gave me an appreciation for what people behind the scenes do to support my teaching! My hat goes off to the SMC! When I left on Thursday afternoon they had a little going away ceremony for me with a few presents and a wonderful card.

Thursday afternoon was the meeting with the school district, Seattle Education Association (SEA) representative, and me. I was anticipating being given my consequence, and even though I was fully prepared for whatever it might be I was pretty stressed out. Then I was dismayed to find out that the meeting was really a deposition. They read the allegations, I answered, “Yes.” They read a letter, I answered, “Yes.” They read e-mails, I answered, “Yes.” They asked me what outcome I wanted to see happen. I said that I would like to be in my classroom teaching the sooner the better, and that I would be happy to be there during testing, performing any non-WASL duties they could find for me. The SEA rep asked the district to oppose any possible move by the WA Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to revoke my teaching certificate. I was a bit startled by this request.

What did my teaching certificate have to do with anything? I was told that in cases of gross insubordination the state has the right to revoke a certificate. Finally I asked, “Aren’t you going to tell me what the school district has decided to do with me?” No, procedurally they could not do that, only the superintendent could decide the penalty. I requested leave without pay until they came to a decision. The SEA representative suggested leave with pay, but the district informed us that only if I was under investigation for a crime could they put me on leave with pay—since I had admitted to my insubordination, there would be no investigation and therefore no pay.

YSR: How did that make you feel? And, how were you treated by others? Be specific.

CC: I was now home and able to reflect, write, and seek a little support from the network of test resistors I knew were out there. I was very concerned about losing my teaching certificate. That seemed really mean-spirited to me. There hasn’t been any movement by OSPI to harm me. So I am relieved.

Because I acted in an unconditional spirit of civil disobedience, I was emotionally prepared for a consequence, be it suspension or termination. I did not and do not have any legal plans to confront the district.

I would not be honest though, if I didn’t let you know that taking a stand like this is easy. It has been sticky — it makes me queasy now and then and has been uncomfortable for my family.

When I read negative and crude comments — many have been posted in media blogs — I feel pretty vulnerable to those extremely angry folks out there who have an axe to grind. It has also been understandable that only a few of my colleagues at school have written to me giving me their support. I think many of them are worried that an association with me in any way could bring consequences to them. Maybe I am wrong.

Once I was home, the SEA representative called and suggested I write a statement so that I would be ready for the press when they came calling. I spent a day composing an explanation about my reasoning. I tried to include all the reasons why the WASL was bad for everyone involved with it.

I sent it to Juanita Doyon of PEN (http://www. Parent empowerment and she edited it a bit for me. Juanita wrote a press release and sent it out on Sunday (http:// newyork.teachers. net/chatboard /topic6658/ Monday morning my phone started ringing at 6:00 AM.

Courage in the Face of Obstacles

YSR: How do you maintain your courage in the face of all the obstacles?

CC: I am wondering the same question! Contacting the staff and administration at Eckstein was only the beginning of what is now an ongoing series of related events, many of which I hadn’t thought of. Up until the moment the media contacted me I felt okay. Since then I see that I needed to control the interviews a little more to get them to report what I wanted to say, not what they wanted me to say. For instance, the newspapers, because they listed only a few of my reasons, have for many readers transformed the debate into a poll of whether I should have been allowed to refuse an order, and whether I should have lost my job or not. Maybe these are topics people need to vent about, and I guess I need to extend my unconditional embrace to any life this takes on.

The greatest encouragement came from the ever-increasing circle of people who heard through Don Perl and the Coalition for Better Education, ( Susan Ohanian (http://www. and Juanita Doyon and the Parent Empowerment Network of what I had done.

E-mails began pouring in, thanking me for my stand, expressing appreciation, and offering to pay a small part of my lost salary. These responses have been truly inspiring! These voices let me know in so many ways that I had not only done the correct thing for myself, but that I had done the right thing for them and our children, too.

Making the Decision Not to Give the WASL Was Made by Carl Chew Alone.

YSR: Did you talk about not giving the high stakes test with others, like your family and friends?

CC: I did not talk to my family before hand. I thought of that, but I knew that I would overly concern my wife and daughter who were preparing to go to China — my daughter’s school orchestra was scheduled to play concerts in Shanghai and Beijing. My wife was madly trying to tie up the loose ends at her work.

I arrived home on the Wednesday before the WASL, and told her that I had decided to not give the test and that I had told the staff at Eckstein. She looked up at me and said calmly, “I don’t need any more stress in my life right now.” Then she went back to work. Later, she hugged me and told me that she believed in me, but because she was so consumed with her own tangle that she wouldn’t be able to give me much support. My daughter, on the other hand, exclaimed, “My rebellious papa!” She went on to give me some good advice—she told me to seek out others who could give me strength. She reminded me that Rosa Parks did not sit in that White’s only seat on the bus alone by herself, that she had had many, many people preparing her and that they were waiting, ready to assist her.

YSR: So, how do you feel about the about the advice of your daughter?

CC: Proof positive —we have to listen to our children!

YSR: What keeps you going during this most difficult time?

Those Who Support Chew; Those Who Think NCLB and High Stakes Testing Harms: Important Testimonials for the Road Less Traveled

CC: As I mentioned, I am getting calls and e-mails, which are truly inspiring. You could compile them into a book! Here are just a few:

A student in my 5th period class writes:

Dear Mr. Chew,

I thought you were against the WASL but never had the proof or any hints to figure out you were against it. Then it hit me you are.

Our sub on Friday said you’d be back Monday, but you weren’t there today. I was flipping channels and saw you on the KOMO 4 news preview. I went on and there you were. You were explaining your stance on the WASL.

You know you’re right. The WASL does bring stress to our lives and I’ve had a sore throat ever since it started. Thank you for understanding your students. I hope you are back soon.

A parent of one of my students writes:

We heard that you weren’t allowed to teach, since you refused to give the WASL. We completely support your decision not to give the WASL. Your action (or inaction, as the case may be) is admirable.

A teacher writes:

Mr. Chew,


I read about your decision to refuse to administer the WASL on KOMO news. I just want to send you an e-mail of support. I want to express how excited and happy I am to see this being discussed in the media. It seems like many teachers are afraid to speak out against the WASL because they fear people will think the teacher speaking is afraid of what the WASL will “reveal” about their teaching. The true concern is our students!

You have opened the door! Taken the road less traveled! Way to go! Your courage will hopefully allow the rest of us to be able to openly speak our opinion as well, and bring to light the many negative aspects of the WASL or any other high stakes testing. This testing leaves our most vulnerable children behind, ensuring that children in poverty will remain in poverty their entire lives. I don’t want to take too much of your time...just want to say again... WAY TO GO!!!

C. (6th grade teacher)

The Role of Schools & Teachers in a Democratic Society

YSR: What do you think is the roles of schools/teachers with regard to helping our young learn?

CC: To my mind the measure of successful childhood is that each child learns about who she or he is and how the world works, gains an assertive and confident self image, and feels safe, well fed, and happy. Schools, along with parents and communities, need to contribute wisely and vigorously to this goal.

YSR: Do you regret what you did, and if not why? That is, are you proud of the stance you took and why?

CC: Initially I was shocked and proud. As time has gone on, and the debate has opened up, I know that I have touched a lot of people’s souls. Most people are thankful that a teacher was brave enough to say, “No!” A few people are pissed off that a teacher would have the audacity to say, “No!” I wrote a number of messages to the bloggers—here’s one:

Posted by theNoWASLguy at 4/22/08 10:55 a.m.

It’s me, the teacher in question.

Well, all I can say is that I hit a nerve out there.

Bravo to all of you who wrote in, informed or not. If any of us in this country ever feel we cannot raise our voice or say “no” to something we believe strongly in our hearts, we are in BIG trouble.

I acted on moral and ethical ideals and professional judgment. I accepted the consequences (suspended without pay) unconditionally. I would have accepted termination. I told the school district I preferred to be allowed to perform non-WASL functions during the testing times. I miss my students and I look forward to being back with them on May 5th. I have apologized to the staff at my school because I know my actions have caused confusion and pain.

If you are interested in reading the reasoning for my actions please go to these links: show_yahoo. html?id=366


YSR: Thank you, Carl. I applaud you for your courage, your integrity, your concern. Our young are our future. And I hope your stance provides others with not only information, but the courage to follow your lead. What can I say, except that I AM PROUD OF YOU! It is an honor to know you. I appreciate you, am grateful for you, and I recognize you for your meritorious choice.

Like you, I have left a position, because I could not support NCLB and high stakes testing. You honor others who have protested against the lunacy of NCLB and high stakes testing. NCLB and high stakes testing do not add value, but take away from our youth a true education. NCLB and high stakes testing have short-changed this country, but have made a few rich. A child is indeed more than a test score.

As I have written and said, to use a single high stakes test score to determine how well a student is learning, how well a teacher is teaching, and how well a school is doing = professional malpractice.

Carl, know that you are indeed an extraordinary, astonishing, and simply amazing person. With every movement and progress for the good of others, there must be people like you, who are willing to stand up to the insanity for justice. I know your civil disobedience (non-violent resistance), instead of mindless compliance, has and will continue to make a positive difference. Good for you. You are a hero to many!

“They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.” (—Benjamin Franklin)

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” (—Thomas Jefferson)

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (—Albert Einstein)

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” (—Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie: deliberate, continued, and dishonest; but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. (~John F. Kennedy)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed will dictate the Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (From the Declaration of Independence, In Congress, July 4, 1776).

—Yvonne Siu-Runyan is Professor Emerita, the University of Northern Colorado (Greeley, CO). She decided to leave UNC at age 55 (seven years ago), for several reasons, but primarily two main ones—NCLB and high stakes testing, which she cannot and will not support for she thinks they harm and do not add value. She now advocates for resisting and getting rid of NCLB and high stakes testing, volunteers in community, and works at several low-paying, part-time jobs. One of her joys is mentoring students (elementary, middle, and high school), who are considered to be “at risk” for she fears for them, and does not want them to fall through the cracks or believe that they are not proficient. Dr. Siu-Runyan resides in Boulder, and can be reached at . To learn more about Yvonne, “google” her name: Yvonne Siu-Runyan. 


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