Students Vow to Continue Citywide Walkout Against PARCC Test
By 12 noon, around 250 students had gathered outside the busy New Mexico state capitol building to protest the PARCC test, while lawmakers and lobbyists worked feverishly inside in the midst of a 60-day legislative session.While most of the students chanting “Say No To PARCC” and “No PARCC-ing Here” were from Capitol High School and Santa Fe High School, youth from other schools including middle school also turned out.
A fourth student declared, ”We are all here for a reason. We are all out here in this cold weather, freezing, to prove a point for the government.” As if on cue, Santa Fe School Board President Steven Carrillo, who had been observing from the periphery of the protest, spoke up to address the gathered students in mass. “I can’t tell you how amazingly happy I am to walk out…and see all of you here today,” Carrillo said after introducing himself, sparking loud cheers from the students.
“One of the things that is most important to realize,” Carrillo continued, “is our country has a very proud tradition of protest being able to move progress on so many issues, and your being out here today is testament to that.” “This number needs to grow,” he said. “This needs to include parents and teachers and community members. You all are tested enough. We don’t need nine hours of testing. What’s really important to know is the people that need to hear you are Cabinet Secretary Hanna Skandera.” “Bring her out,” the students chanted, interrupting the School Board President’s speech. After Carrillo informed the crowd that the the Department of Education office is across the street on Don Gaspar, the students marched over there and attempted to draw Skandera out to speak to them.
Some students went inside the NMPED building to negotiate for her appearance, while most stayed outside, continuing their chants. After about a half hour, a male NMPED official came out and announced that the Education Secretary was not willing to speak to the group. Disappointed but not giving up, the students vowed to return another day. Shortly thereafter, the protest ended around 1 pm. Santa Fe High School students announced they were returning to their campus and would continue to protest outside the school library. Other students returned to class at their respective schools or otherwise dispersed into the city. Back at the Roundhouse, School Board President Steven Carrillo was not surprised that Hanna Skandera had refused to meet with the students. But if history is a guide, so long as the student protests against PARCC keep growing as Carrillo hopes they will, Skandera may soon have no choice but to stop ignoring the uprising and meet with its leaders. Initially planning to protest all week, student leaders changed course late Tuesday and announced on Facebook they are calling on everyone to be in class on Wednesday and Thursday, before returning to the streets and to the halls of governmental power on Friday. They were worried that parents can be taken to court to justify 3 straight unexcused student absences. “We don’t want any trouble like that,” one posted anonymously on Facebook. For more background on this issue, read the mainstream media reports.