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Carl Chew Chimes In

Posted: 2008-04-28

I guess I had to chime in, to correct a few of the bad mouth misconceptions. In reply to Jamieson and my critics:

*Attention Students **

1) Remember there is no name calling in class. (Somehow my 6th graders can do this and still have stimulating and important conversations at the same time. When did adults forget the rules?)

2) Each of us has a right to be civilly disobedient whenever we feel inspired or forced to do so. Period.

3) I did not ask to be removed from my class. In fact I recommended to the principal that she simply reassign me during testing times. It was the school district who ultimately levied my punishment and by so doing brought this to the attention of the public.

4) My students did not know what I was doing. In no way was my class disrupted. I wrote on my blackboard, "I have something important to do and you probably will have a guest teacher. Treat them with respect. Do your best on the WASL." The students only learned of my act a week later when the media splashed it all over town.

5) I did not plan at the beginning of the year to refuse to give the WASL. I think it is a normal human reaction to want to forget painful events quickly. I would always tell myself, I won't do this again, but then forget about my discomfort. Then every spring I would wimp out and just get the WASL or other big test I had to administer over with. This year I simply decided not to be a woose. (I guess it's okay to call myself names.)

6) And yes, I have been to Olympia to protest the WASL. And I am a member of a number of organizations that are working to change or eliminate the WASL. Educators have been protesting the inequities of the WASL for years in all the appropriate places. Guess what? We can no more count on our leaders to change the WASL than we can convince them to follow the law and fully fund education in this state.

7) The Ebonic issue is interesting. It sure brings a lot of folks out into the open. Look, KVI's John Carlson will move heaven and earth to get someone he doesn't believe in to put their foot in their mouth. He asked me about my contention that the WASL was writ ten in White middle and upper class language. It is, read it. This fact alone puts a huge percentage of our children at risk of not passing. Imagine if your children had to take the test in Spanish. Would you feel that was fair? The kids in our schools speak in many different languages. Actually, I am a teacher who believes they must learn White middle and upper class English to navigate the world successfully, but I respect and value their home languages, too. To not do so would be unconscionable, immoral, and a slap at the faces of the students, their parents and communities. When I brought up Ebonic, Mr. Carlson immediately began hammering at me. He said something to the effect, you mean we should give the test in Ebonic--slang! His words, not mine. I clarified that I had used the word Ebonic because he asked for an example of another kind of English. And, I stand by my words. Next a caller said I sickened him. And then Carlson said, what would Obama say about this. He is darn good at attacking from every conceivable angle, whew! I think I did pretty well considering.

8) Okay, let's consider Ebonic or Black English or what every you want to call it. If you are brave enough, paste this link into your browser. It is a wonderful defense of my position by one of my heroes, James Baldwin. You know who he is, right? Good, you get full credit.


There have been a lot of cheap shots taken at my character and value as a teacher. Don't worry, I know who I am and what a great job I do with my students.

Enough said.

Carl Chew

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