By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The students protested the continuous testing that causes them, as they put it, "to lose valuable instruction time with our teachers."
All over the country, not only students but many teachers bridle at these standardized, assembly-line tests—and the instruction that goes with them, which is targeted only toward perfecting the students' test-taking skills—that have led to the disappearance of classes in history, music, the arts, and what used to be called civics classes (as in: Why are we Americans? What's in this Constitution thing? How did we get the First Amendment? What is the separation of powers? These days, how many students even know?).
I.S. 318's administrators blamed the student rebellion on a 30-year-old probationary social-studies teacher, Douglas Avella, who, according to González's story, "was [summarily] assigned to an empty room in the school and ordered to have no further contact with students. . . . Avella denied that he urged the students to boycott tests." And gosh, several students even said that Avella had made social studies exciting. No wonder he's a suspect.
Speaking for the Department of Education and Chancellor Klein, spokesman David Cantor solemnly explained the decision this way: "This guy was far over the line in a lot of the ways he was running his classroom. He was pulled because he was inappropriate with the kids. He was giving them messages that were inappropriate."
No surprise there: "I teach them critical thinking," the discarded teacher acknowledged.
So why don't Randi Weingarten and the UFT hold a tribute and otherwise show their support for Avella and those courageous eighth-grade students? It's not too late. And invite the kids' parents!