On Monday, February 23, at 10:25 AM, 250 students across Santa Fe, New Mexico walked out of school to protest the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, the new high-stakes standardized test that 11 states including NM have adopted. Most of the striking students went downtown to the Roundhouse, the state capitol where the annual legislative session is now going on, while others stayed at Santa Fe High School to speak with Superintendent Joel Boyd, who urged students to write letters of concern regarding the PARCC testing to Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera and said he would personally deliver them to her. The following day, 250 students walked out again—this time, converging on Skandera’s office, who declined to meet with us—followed by a smaller walkout, with the same result, on Wednesday. On Friday, 200 students walked out and converged on the Governors Office, where we briefly held a silent sit-in and delivered handwritten petitions. We then rallied outside, before most students went inside the Senate gallery to sit and respectfully watch several Democratic senators on the Senate floor articulating problems with the extreme testing regime, including its monopolization of instructional time, privatization agenda, technological failures, and boon to greedy corporations like Pearson at the expense of real learning. Meanwhile, two Santa Fe High student protest leaders spoke at a “Renewable Energy Day” press conference in the capitol rotunda about our concerns with the PARCC tests, our support for the new Academy of Sustainability Education (ASE) that launched on our campus this year, and our dreams of expanding this solutions-based alternative throughout the Santa Fe public schools district. Many students met in smaller groups with State Senators, and Senate Education Chair John Sapien agreed to hold a meeting with us the following week. Thousands of students were expected to walkout across New Mexico on Monday, March 2, the first day of PARCC testing. You can learn more about our movement, see videos of our protests, and read my Renewable Energy Day speech at www.sayno2parcc.wordpress.com.
by Melachai Ramirez, Santa Fe High School student, Academy of Sustainability Education cohort