Saturday, May 13, 2017

Anthony Cody: Education Activists Craft Viral Videos - Living in Dialogue

Education Activists Craft Viral Videos - Living in Dialogue:

Education Activists Craft Viral Videos

By Anthony Cody.
Short, punchy films with a message have become one of the most powerful ways the movement to resist high stakes tests has spread the word. You might have seen parents from New York speaking from the heart about their experience, about what has driven them to resist and opt out of these tests. Some of them have been shared and viewed thousands of times.
It is not easy to create a video that spreads like wildfire across social media. The message must be clear, the voice authentic, the speaker eloquent. Viewers have to not only watch it, but be motivated to share. For these reasons, creating a successful video of this sort is like catching lightning in a jar.  The Network for Public Education has a project underway that hopes to do just that.
Two weeks ago, several hundred people spent part of their Sunday in a warehouse in the Gowanus district of Brooklyn, participating in the first phase of an experiment in social media. The guiding director of the project was Michael Elliot, who has a track record of success in creating such videos. This time, the stakes were raised, the goal set a bit higher. Elliot is working to create a whole series of videos, to be released in the coming year, featuring some of the movement’s most powerful voices. Kemala Karmen, who also has a background in documentary film, worked alongside Elliot to organize the project, prepare the speakers, and recruit the audience. Elliot and Karmen are both parents of public school students. Volunteers from the New York City Opt Out movement helped with critical tasks on the day of the shoot.
On a somewhat grimy Brooklyn street, a warehouse door opened onto a space where folding tables were set up with snacks and photo release forms. The volunteer audience filed in and was seated in a makeshift theater, with a curtained set, and carefully lit stage. Three shifts would come and go, listening to short talks delivered by people like community organizer Jitu Brown. Brotha Jitu talked about the successful fight to keep Chicago’s Dyett High school open, and challenged the audience to recognize the unequal education offered to students of color. Living legend Diane Ravitch described the many ways privatizers, led by Betsy DeVos, are working to turn education into a marketplace with winners and losers. Seattle’s Jesse Hagopian spoke of the urgent need to reach students with meaningful lessons – project-based learning and Ethnic Studies.  Texan John Kuhn spoke about the injustice of holding teachers alone accountable for student outcomes.
We also heard from a student, Kymberly Walcott, who spoke about the closing of her high school, Jamaica High, and how it felt to have the school she loved labeled a failure. Parent Johanna Garcia spoke in English and Spanish about the ways schools serving poor students are underfunded and set up to fail, and how tests work to intensify rather than correct inequities. Linda Lyon, the president-ELECT of the school board association in Arizona talked about the mirage of privatization. And Jeannette Deuterman spoke of Education Activists Craft Viral Videos - Living in Dialogue:

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