Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Bronx 8th-graders boycott practice exam in protest to standardized education
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
By Juan Gonzalez. From NYDailyNews.com:

Students at a South Bronx middle school have pulled off a stunning boycott against standardized testing.

More than 160 students in six different classes at Intermediate School 318 in the South Bronx - virtually the entire eighth grade - refused to take last Wednesday's three-hour practice exam for next month's statewide social studies test.

Instead, the students handed in blank exams.

Then they submitted signed petitions with a list of grievances to school Principal Maria Lopez and the Department of Education.

"We've had a whole bunch of these diagnostic tests all year," Tatiana Nelson, 13, one of the protest leaders, said Tuesday outside the school. "They don't even count toward our grades. The school system's just treating us like test dummies for the companies that make the exams."

According to the petition, they are sick and tired of the "constant, excessive and stressful testing" that causes them to "lose valuable instructional time with our teachers."

School administrators blamed the boycott on a 30-year-old probationary social studies teacher, Douglas Avella.

The afternoon of the protest, the principal ordered Avella out of the classroom, reassigned him to an empty room in the school and ordered him to have no further contact with students.

A few days later, in a reprimand letter, Lopez accused Avella of initiating the boycott and taking "actions [that] caused a riot at the school."

The students say their protest was entirely peaceful. In only one class, they say, was there some loud clapping after one exam proctor reacted angrily to their boycott.

This week, Lopez notified Avella in writing that he was to attend a meeting today for "your end of the year rating and my possible recommendation for the discontinuance of your probationary service."

"They're saying Mr. Avella made us do this," said Johnny Cruz, 15, another boycott leader. "They don't think we have brains of our own, like we're robots. We students wanted to make this statement. The school is oppressing us too much with all these tests."

Two days after the boycott, the students say, the principal held a meeting with all the students to find out how their protest was organized.

Avella on Tuesday denied that he urged the students to boycott tests.

Yes, he holds liberal views and is critical of the school system's increased emphasis on standardized tests, Avella said, but the students decided to organize the protest after weeks of complaining about all the diagnostic tests the school was making them take.

"My students know they are welcome in my class to have open discussions," Avella said. "I teach them critical thinking."

"Some teachers implied our graduation ceremony would be in danger, that we didn't have the right to protest against the test," said Tia Rivera, 14. "Well, we did it."

Lopez did not return calls for comment.

"This guy was far over the line in a lot of the ways he was running his classroom," said Department of Education spokesman David Cantor. "He was pulled because he was inappropriate with the kids. He was giving them messages that were inappropriate."

Several students defended Avella. They say he had made social studies an exciting subject for them.

"Now they've taken away the teacher we love only a few weeks before our real state exam for social studies," Tatiana Nelson said. "How does that help us?"

jgonzalez@nydailynews.com
0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 9,831 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 6,505 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Bernie Sanders: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders · 5,370 views today · We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 4,187 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 3,139 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Who's Really to Blame for Fake News? Look in the Mirror, America.
Neal Gabler · 2,866 views today · Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation —...
South Koreans Are Really Good at Protesting
2 min · 2,858 views today · South Koreans organize some of the largest and most peaceful protests in the world. Here's what makes them so good at protesting.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,672 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Corporate Giants' "Sustainable" Palm Oil Revealed as Sham
Nika Knight · 2,627 views today · Nestlé, Kellogg's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others are linked to child labor and forced labor in Indonesia
A Tribe Called Red and Saul Williams Offer a Powerful Prayer for Standing Rock and Beyond
5 min · 1,501 views today · Music video for "The Virus" by A Tribe Called Red, featuring Saul Williams and Chippewa Travellers.
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 1,390 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
The Truth About the Alt-Right
11 min · 1,264 views today · Our comprehensive investigation into the Alt-Right movement, including its origins, its relation to the Trump campaign and broader implications for the future. Read more: What...
The Most Mind-Altering Photograph of All Time
4 min · 1,020 views today · Carl Sagan narrates the story of the Pale Blue Dot, the one place we all call home. 
Why You Should Stop Using Most Antibacterial Soaps
3 min · 978 views today · Antibacterial soaps could be doing a lot more harm than good - here's why.
EU Energy Targets Will 'Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions'
Nafeez Ahmed · 975 views today · New renewable energy plan undercuts itself by boosting dangerous wood-burning industries
The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy
3 min · 947 views today · What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic...
Answering the Call: The American Struggle for the Right to Vote
75 min · 900 views today · Watch an exclusive and limited time online screening of Answering the Call, presented by Films For Action. If you enjoy watching, consider purchasing a DVD copy for a friend at...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 806 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Gabor Mate on the Myth of Normal
4 min · 652 views today · Physician Dr. Gabor Mate began his interview by addressing the 'myth of normal' that divides us into the normal and the abnormal with pathological traits. Dr. Mate mentions...
The Many Ways to Help Standing Rock
Sarah van Gelder · 580 views today · Even if you can’t show up at the wintry encampments, you can join water protectors in other ways: from calling the North Dakota governor to breaking up with your bank.
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Bronx 8th-graders boycott practice exam in protest to standardized education