Last year I wrote a handful of poems inspired by Standardized Testing content, environment, philosophy, politics, reality, competition, consequence, bias, flaws, opportunity. These poems were posted onto this blog on March 19, 2013. On the following morning, I was instructed to remove these poems from the blog or face consequences with my teaching license. I promised to repost their content the following month once testing was over, but thought better of it. I was contacted by the Santa Fe Reporter to discuss the censorship and breach of test security. I thought better of that as well.
But this year I will be writing a poem a day this March to voice concerns, foster dialogue and relate what is happening in public education. Today’s poem is inspired by the legal documents I received in light of last year’s poetry. Pictured below, I was required to read my responsibilities regarding STATEWIDE STANDARDIZED TESTING SECURITY ISSUES AND REGULARITIES (220.127.116.11) and CODE OF ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE EDUCATION PROFESSION, STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT (18.104.22.168/9).
Owning up to my missteps, I was in breach of 22.214.171.124 Provision C for Staff Responsibility reading: It shall be a prohibitive practice for anyone to: 1. photocopy or reproduce in any other fashion including paraphrasing, any portion of a standardized test including a student’s answer; 2. Teach from, possess or in any way disseminate a photocopy or other reproduced or paraphrased standardized test or portion of a standardized test.
As well, I also compromised my duties as a teacher in New Mexico concerning 126.96.36.199 Provision C (19) reading: the educator shall not engage in any conduct or make any statement (a) that would breach the security of any standardized or non-standardized tests; (c) that would give students an unfair advantage in taking a standardized test; (d) that would give a particular school or a particular classroom an unfair advantage in taking a standardized or non-standardized test.
At the time of penning the censored poems, I had never read these provisions for the responsibilities of carrying my license or continuing to teach students in New Mexico. My intention was not to offer students a leg up on their peers. I did not strive to compromise the test security. I intended to process my day the best way I know how. To filter my experiences, frustrations and joys through poetry. In this case that was a dangerous deed.
Now that I know, I will not gain creative inspiration directly from testing content. Though, from my vantage point, the tests remain deeply inspiring while completely devoid of creativity.
But I will be writing everyday. Not of the test, but of the testing. Not of the score, but of the student.
(italicized parts lifted from existing legislative wording and structure)
I, Public Educator
Title Now: Primary and Secondary Education
Chapter Immediately: The Person, the Student, The Human in Public Education
Part Existential: How to Exist in Education
Issuing Agent: A Teacher of Security Breaches, A Teacher of Voice
Scope: For all those who pay taxes, who appreciate learning and citizenship; by this meaning non-litterers, voters, parents, employers, public officials, welfare recipients, landowners, bigots, lobbyists, holographs
Statutory Authority: The Law of Sight, Breath and Beating Heart
Duration: The length of employment of the poet
Effective date: August 2008 upon employment or March 2013 upon censorship
Objective: To attract like hearted individuals to the greatest profession man has yet created. The poet wishes to inspire man and woman, boy and girl, to learn, feel and give, for collaboration is a dying (or never birthed) ideal of education. The poet wishes for others to rise, resist, remake, inhabit, refute, satirize these words and hollow out the hollowness of the profession to finally make full the educator, the lobby, the great hall, the calling.
Definitions: “Education” means struggling against struggle, against injustice, against closemindedness, against economics-based metrics of progress. “Ethical Misconduct” refers to apathy, complacency, short-sightedness while engendering citizenship and the morality of youth. “Grounds for Termination” relates to willful or unconscious reinforcement of the institutional limitations on students of rural, urban, disadvantaged, impoverished, differently colored, independently spiritual backgrounds.
Code of Ethics: I, a professional educator of New Mexico, affirm my belief in the worth and dignity of humanity, the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, scholarship and citizenship.
Standards of Professional Conduct:
1. Never accept district-, state-, or federal mandated curricula without sound reflection, critical discourse or self-expression within or without of the classroom. Maintain integrity when dissenting by basing our public criticism of education on valid assumptions as established by careful evaluations of facts.
2. Promote community involvement through cross cultural and intergenerational experiences. Instruct with the health, wellbeing and sustainability of community in mind.
3. Expose students to the gift of inquiry engendering self-exploration and alleging truth above personal safety.
4. Deny lazy consumption of American consumer culture through social justice pedagogies for economics, geology, land, identity, politics, language, art and genetics.
5. Forego the use of History textbooks which fail to make reference to the following individuals: Daniel Berrigan, Russell Means, Cesar Chavez, Geronimo, Wangari Maathi, Frederick Douglass, Kevin Powers, Tim DeChristopher, Woody Guthrie, Arundhati Roy, Howard Zinn, Liu Xiaobo, His Holiness the Dali Lama, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Malala Yousafzai.
6. Prepare students for mastery of standardized tests while fostering dialogue concerning test biases; lack of research-based reasoning for its proliferation; the uneven playing field established, strengthened and perpetuated by tying its purpose to federal monies and to evaluations of self, demographic, school, teacher.
7. Recognize the opportunity of all students’ life paths, lifestyle choices, and alternative realities by acknowledging their point of view and validating their voice.
8. Motivate students to expect kairotic moments in their lives, ensuring a person’s existence is not beholden to stereotype, family name, addiction history, bank account, automobiles, disabilities, street gangs, IQ, individualized education plans.
9. Show up every day despite the legislation, the politics, the morass, the profound impossibilities. Arrive sincere and leave carved open. Bare the soul to students so they may learn of being human.