Monday, April 25, 2016

.@PearsonPARCC Testing Postpones LGBTQ Event




A couple of weeks ago, friend of mine shared this Facebook post from her son, Derek, a sophomore at Hunterdon Central Regional High School here in NJ:

Hey everyone. I’m Derek Borowsky, a sophomore at Central. This Friday, April 15 is the international Day is Silence, a day in April every year where students come together and take a vow of silence in support of LGBTQ+ teens. If you want more information, check out http://www.dayofsilence.org/. For the past many years, our school has wholeheartedly allowed and supported a club-organized (usually organized by PULSE) participation in the day of silence. I am proud to say we have teachers, administration, staff, and student supporters that help to make this event successful. 
This year, however, the Day of Silence is not allowed. That is because of the PARCC tests, which will be taking place this Friday, April 15 as well. Despite the understanding that participation in the Day of Silence does not exclude students from speaking in class to answer questions, the presence of the PARCC tests are disallowing us from participating in the Day of Silence regardless. 
However, the Day of Silence is a nationally recognized event, and includes participation from other countries as well. I am refusing to bow down to the evils of this test and will stand in solidarity with my peers and allies as we silently combat violence and bullying against LGBTQ+. 
Our school wide Day of Silence will be rescheduled, with the full support of the school, to a day in May, but those of us who want to go beyond the school and unite with the more than ten thousand students that will participate THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 15, are encouraged to. I am making the name tags that say, “Hello, my name is: Silence”. I will gladly distribute them to anyone and everyone and would love a school wide, peaceful and silent protest to take place this Friday, April 15. If you would instead like to simply remain quiet without wearing a name tag, that is awesome as well. 
Thank you for your understanding, support, and participation. This is just one way we can make a legitimate difference in our world. I look forward to seeing us, the students and friends of Hunterdon Central, standing together as one! Have an awesome day!
 
It seems that the PARCC test is magically going to do so much more to prepare him and his peers for life beyond high school than an event that was started 20 years ago and has only grown; an event that raises awareness of the struggles of LGBTQ teens; an event that teaches young adults not just acceptance of LGBTQ people, but acceptance of anyone who is different from them. Forget about 'college and career ready', this is a life skill and a level of consciousness that everyone needs in order to live in a peaceful and supportive society in which everyone has the opportunity to be the best version of themselves. And in my humble opinion, that is way more important than a score on a bogus standardized test. 

According to the Day of Silence website:

The GLSEN Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT. 
In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.
The Day of Silence has reached students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as those as far away as New Zealand, Singapore and Russia. More than 10,000 students register their Day of Silence participation with GLSEN every year. And public figures such as Laverne Cox, Jim Parsons, RuPaul, Tyler Oakley, Kirsten Vangsness, Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Bean, Vicky Beeching, Steve Grand, Chely Wright, and many others have publicly supported students participating in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

And what exactly is the PARCC test supposed to do?