Testimony before the State Board of Education
By: Laura Fuchs – Secretary of the Washington Teachers Union, Chair of the WTU Committee on Political Education, Chair of DC Caucus of Rank and File Educators (DC-CORE), Recording Secretary of the Ward 7 Education Council, Treasurer of Empower DC, Member of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators (SHAPPE), Ward 5 Resident
Given: Wednesday, October 20, 2021
I am here before you today as a teacher in a school that has been given every negative label and name under the sun by pernicious education reform driven policies that prefer to test, label, punish and close schools rather than support them. Since Michelle Rhee began her tenure and through Ferebee schools have been opened and closed at alarming rates and are largely justified using these labels. From DCPS to the Charter Sector, this damaging and standardized test-based system has done little to improve our students outcomes, and a whole lot of damage to school communities and stability.
It is all our faults. But I am looking specifically at every person who voted for this STAR report card, and those at OSSE, the DME and the Mayors Office who perpetuate this toxic environment where school communities are devalued, where the relationships of teachers, students and the parents hold no value at all. Where ADULTS make decisions that impact CHILDREN for their OWN benefit.
What I see from my classroom is a district obsessed with measuring things in a standardized way. I see endless trackers, and consultants, and database systems, all tied up in the OSSE STAR Report Card’s arbitrary metrics. I see adults who have built their entire careers on looking at the human beings in our schools as data points that are somehow “bad” or “failing” and those of us who serve them as problems that need to be fixed. I see a bunch of Teach for America alumni who couldn’t last more than 5 years teaching trying to tell me, someone who has 15 years of experience, that if I just did this one little tracker and followed one more acronym or program in just this way that EVERYTHING would be better.
Our students see our so-called leadership at their Ed Fest. They see them and their little press conferences. They see them on their little All-STAR tours. Where don’t they see district leaders? Doing the work that actually helps the students in this city. Where don’t they see them? Conducting the oversight that would not have allowed DCPS and this mayor to systemically disinvest in schools like Washington Met, depriving them of stability, adequate resources and the real programming that would give them a shot at being successful too. Where don’t they see them? Demanding REAL investment – not some tiny little grant that barely does anything. Fighting for EQUITY not EQUALITY. Something these so called leaders clearly don’t understand at all.
They don’t see leaders valuing our students. They see leaders judging them from on high. They see leaders standing by and feeling satisfied with themselves and their work, far away from students in these office buildings downtown doing NOTHING while a school community gets ripped apart. They see phony engagement sessions and listening sessions and faux interest in what they have to say. And they aren’t fooled.
I am outraged at the way this city treats our students who are struggling. We say we are investing in them but 1) we don’t. and 2) the investments come with an implied threat – if you don’t fix things in a short amount of time you will be closed.
How DARE you sit here and act like what is happening with this report card is OK. School closures and instability is exactly what we said was going to happen. And here it is. OSSE should be ashamed of itself. The DME should be ashamed. DCPS should be ashamed. THE MAYOR should be ashamed. And any one of you who continue to support this failed system should be ashamed. If you think this nonsense is helping schools and students you are delusional.
Shame on you.
End the STAR Rating System.