Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rethinking Columbus in New Zealand

People in New Zealand know the truth about Columbus. At least Radio New Zealand broadcaster Wayne Brittenden does. Check out the letter he wrote/read to Columbus.

I was then interviewed. Perhaps the most interesting thing I talked about was how I have my fifth graders put Columbus et al on trial for genocide each fall. It's a powerful activity because it requires group research and understanding, engaging critical thinking, public speaking, multicultural-anti-racism and powerful content (the truth about the European invasion).

To say nothing of popping the Columbus Discovery myth. 

Check out the 18 minute interview here.

Check out the book Rethinking Columbus here. A multicultural bestseller-- Banned in Tucson

Let's continue to Rethink Columbus and all types of colonial oppression and relationships.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Parent Opposition to Early Childhood Testing on the Increase

A growing number of parents are expressing concern over the increasing number of standardized tests and screeners being imposed on young students in Milwaukee.

This year both the state and the school district have increased testing for four-, five-, six- and seven-year-old students in the district.

More and more parents are saying, “Enough!”

Take Jasmine Alinder. She came face to face with the problems of testing young children when she volunteered to help her daughter’s kindergarten teacher administer the district mandated MAP tests. The Measure of Academic Progress tests are computerized assessments in both math and literacy. They are administered three times a year in MPS for grades K5 through 12th grade.

Jasmine’s short essay, “A Parent’s View: MAP Testing of FiveYear-old Kindergarteners,” went viral on Facebook over the weekend. She writes:

“I know there is a lot of discussion and controversy over what is referred to as ‘high-stakes testing,’ but in all honesty I haven’t paid too much attention to it.  What I saw today, however, was eye opening and leads me to believe that standardized computer tests have no place in our early elementary school classrooms. MAP testing for five year olds does not test math and reading competency. At best it tests patience and computer literacy, which is more likely an indication of computer access at home.  At worst it creates a culture of stress and frustration around standardized testing that may scar some of these children for the rest of their school careers.”
Jasmine and others are not just writing about the problem. They are beginning to organize. Inappropriate use of standardized testing in early grades will be a topic at the upcoming meeting of Parents for Public Schools-Milwaukee. Jasmine is president of the Milwaukee chapter of PPS. The meeting will be this Sunday, October 6 from 3-4 p.m. at the downtown public library in meeting room one. It is open to all parents who support public schools. For more details go to Parents for Public Schools-MKE’s Facebook site.

The MTEA is asking parents and teachers in Milwaukee to fill out a survey to get more information about attitudes towards the test. The survey can be taken by clicking here or going to

Last year, teachers, students and parents successfully stood up in Seattle against the inappropriate use of MAP testing. It appears more and more people are raising similar concerns across the country.


For a teacher’s look at the problems of computerized MAP testing in early grades, see Melissa Tempel’s Huffington Post commentary, “Testing Our Limits: The Trouble with Computerized Exams.”