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New Raza Left

Education is a Right!

by Rosario Del Valle |
July 1, 2000

Los Angeles, CA - The New Raza Left Los Angeles, after summing up our last campaign against Proposition 21 has decided to now focus our organizing efforts on educational justice to improve the bad conditions in our schools. In the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) conditions have reached crisis levels.

Overcrowded and old inner city schools, lack of resources and support for teachers, high push-out rates, and forced racist standardized testing. Combine this with the destruction of bilingual education and the push by profit driven business interests to take over the LAUSD. The LAUSD continues to use race and class biased testing.

Rank and file teachers have organized a movement to stop standardized testing in the schools. Efforts to dismantle standardized testing have intensified in the past months. The New Raza Left has taken up this issue as part of its campaign against the injustice of the U.S. educational system.

The Coalition for Educational Justice has specifically confronted the school district. Known as standardized testing or Stanford 9 testing, these exams are being used to judge students ability, but in reality they do not demonstrate anything about a student's ability, or what a student has learned in his or her class during the year.

These exams have been designed and are composed of questions that are racist and elitist. By nature they exclude a large portion of the Chicano/a, Latino/a, African American, Indigenous and Asian population. The exams are only given in English, which means that a student who is academically advanced but still developing English as a second language will not receive a high grade. That student is then judged as though they didn't have abilities, instead of saying that the exam's grading system in not valid, because it is testing how much English someone does or does not know, instead of their academic level. The language and terms are also not at the students level, and the content of the questions reflect stereotypes offensive to cultures that are not Anglo.

In addition, the educational situation is getting worse because some teachers feel forced to teach to the standardized test instead of teaching material that the students actually need. Some state officials are talking about paying bonuses to teachers that reach the prescribed grade levels for the state standardized tests. The bonus system creates an environment of capitalist greed and individualism among teachers, who will then compete rather than cooperate. The state then takes away the validity of the teachers' studies and knowledge of how to best help our students.

It would be better if they focused on pressuring, criticizing and suggesting ways of testing which do not focus on whether or not a student has had time to learn and process academic material from each grade. By nature the Stanford 9 and other standardized tests are designed for students from minority groups and schools not to succeed, so they can then say that they are less intelligent and don't try enough.

The educational system has failed the oppressed nations from the beginning with the purpose of keeping the working class oppressed. This - standardized testing in the schools - is the model and the excuse for maintaining a working class that cannot question the educational system or the system in general, and then keep one or more nations oppressed.

Join with us to organize for a better education and struggle for a society with real justice and democracy. Call us at (323) 266-1408 to participate in our next activity.

For Self-Determination!

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