MORE’s Jia Lee Testifies in U.S. Senate on NCLB

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.
Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.
The members of MORE proudly support our colleague, Jia Lee, who will be testifying at a senate hearing on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal education policies on Wednesday, January 21st 2015. Jia has taught at all school levels from high school to elementary school. She currently serves as the UFT chapter leader at the Earth School on the Lower East Side. She is a parent who has opted her child out of testing, joining thousands of parents around the nation. She has become a leader of the opt-out movement.

Jia has been a strong advocate for teachers, parents and students, especially on the testing issue in her school, in MORE and in Change the Stakes. Last year she and other teachers at her school declared themselves “teachers of conscience” a form of conscientious objection in relation to the overwhelming negative impact of high stakes testing. In a letter to NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina, they wrote:

Dear Chancellor Carmen Fariña,

We are teachers of public education in the City of New York. We are writing to distance ourselves from a set of policies that have come to be known as market-based education reform. We recognize that there has been a persistent and troubling gulf between the vision of individuals in policymaking and the work of educators, but we see you as someone who has known both positions and might therefore be understanding of our position. We find ourselves at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education. We can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. We will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking. We can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a city-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. We have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.

As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.

Read the full statement here:

The voice of the classroom teacher will be in extraordinarily capable hands in the person of Jia Lee at the national forum at the US Senate Education Committee hearing.

6 thoughts on “MORE’s Jia Lee Testifies in U.S. Senate on NCLB

  1. If I were going pick one person to speak for me… she’d be damned close to the top of the list.
    Does anyone know if the hearing will be streamed anywhere?

    1. Will be livestreamed as well on the US Senate page here and archived afterwards:

      more info below (though Politico missed the last minute addition of another NYC teacher, Stephen Lazar)

      TUNED INTO TESTING: Education policy wonks are gearing up for a Senate HELP Committee hearing this Wednesday titled, “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.” A refresher: Chairman Lamar Alexander has proposed two testing options [] in his draft discussion to reauthorize the law, one of which would allow districts to forgo annual state tests. The witness list [ ]: New York City special education teacher Jia Lee, Harvard professor Marty West, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, New Hampshire Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights CEO Wade Henderson.

      – Lee is probably the least known in D.C. but she has a strong following in the opt-out movement. She’s a special education teacher in New York who strongly believes that the testing and accountability provisions in NCLB have damaged public schools – and she plans to tell the senators as much. Lee told Morning Education she has worked at schools where the need to boost student scores for NCLB accountability prompted an aggressive focus on test prep and a narrowing of the curriculum. She’s now at a small, progressive public school called the Earth School, where last year about half the students opted out of standardized tests. ‘There’s accountability to our students and our parents,’ Lee said. More from Maggie Severns:

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