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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This Is Not A Test: The Book

This Is Not A Test: The Book:


A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education
"Jose Vilson hits right between the eyes, exposing how hardscrabble poverty and the pernicious effect of racism distort young lives."
- Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association
Pre-Order Now: Haymarket Books / Amazon / B&N / Books-A-Million


Graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in computer science, Jose Vilson left campus with no job and a few hundred dollars to his name, propelling him (eventually) to his calling: teaching middle school children math in a public school in Washington Heights / Inwood, Manhattan. From his own background as a boy growing up on the drug-tainted, community-centered projects of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, this book takes the reader on the coming-of-age story of a naïve young man struggling to mature through the first few years of his career, balancing the lows of murder, poverty, and academic failure to the highs of growth and eventual triumph.

His career takes a twist when he starts a blog with incisive commentary on the state of education on his eponymous blog, taking prominent figures and institutions like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and The New York Times to task. (As of this letter, the site is banned from most NYC Department of Education computers, yet read by central offices.) In his collection of multifaceted essays, he provokes discussion on issues of race, gentrification, and the teaching profession from the eyes of a Black-Latino educator with a mix of research and first-hand experience.
This education book is not to be missed!


Buy The Book

This Is Not A Test is available wherever books are sold, but ...

Please do buy the book from the publisher. They're awesome.

This Is Not A Test, Summer 2011

Video from my performance of the poem, This Is Not A Test, at the Save Our Schools March.


Here is a running list of endorsements from some early reviewers.

Dennis Van Roekel

"Drawing from his own insight as a teacher, Jose Vilson hits right between the eyes, exposing how hardscrabble poverty and the pernicious effect of racism distort young lives. In This Is Not A Test: The New Narrative On Race, Class, and Education,Vilson argues for more teachers of color, more time for teachers to support each other, and more ways for teachers to shape policy. Bristling at the “cold calculus” of tests, This Is Not A Test calls for practices that engage imagination and respect students as people. In gripping language, Vilson sends students an urgent message: “When we find our passions, we must enter into them boldly” and believe in the value and gift of oneself."
— Dennis Van Roekel
President, National Education Association

Renee Moore

"Jose Vilson offers us a riveting combination of classroom experience, common sense, and culturally-critiqued educational theory, flavored by genuine passion for teaching and social justice, all delivered with exquisite hip-hop dexterity. He represents voices in the U.S. education community too long muted and silent no more. If there were a test, this is what should be on it.

— Renee Moore
NBCT Board Member and English Teacher in Mississippi

Chris Lehmann

"Jose Vilson is a teacher of the highest order. Through the powerful narrative of his life both inside and outside of the classroom, Jose teaches us important lessons on every page of This Is Not a Test. Jose teaches us about the intersection of education, race, class and activism while calling all of us to do better - to be better - as we strive along with him to be the educators all our children need us to be. This book is a must read for educators, soon-to-be educators, parents, students and anyone who cares about education and the children of this country."

— Chris Lehmann
Founding Principal, Science Leadership Academy

Barnett Berry

"Jose's autobiographical journey offers a big window for seeing why our nation must blur the lines of distinction between those who teach in schools and those who lead them. With powerful prose and poetry, his narrative as student and then later, NYC teacher leader, loving father (and husband), and advocate for children paints a portrait of what public education can and must be for American society. Jose's last chapter, "Why Teach," offers a hopeful vision for the future of the profession in spite of wrongheaded policymakers who seek to control teachers rather than listen and learn from them. Jose represents so many teachers across the United States, whose pedagogical skills and leadership acumen have yet to be tapped in the transformation of teaching and learning. Read "This is Not a Test" now!"

— Dr. Barnett Berry
CEO and Founder of The Center for Teaching Quality

Diane Ravitch

"Jose Luis Vilson has written a spell-binding book that explains the joys And burdens of teaching. The joys are the kids, with all their heartaches and dreams. The burdens are the politicians and careerists who snuff out the spirit of children and teachers. Read this book!"
Diane Ravitch
NYU Professor and President of the Network for Public Education

Cindi Risgbee

"This Is Not A Test opens with a poem and continues reading like one - full of imagery, rhyme, and hip hop rhythm. It’s a life story, a love letter, a song…in which Jose Vilson uses his teacher voice to speak candidly on issues the rest of the world discusses in whispers: free speech, sexual orientation, child abuse, race, poverty, education, and the inequities that surround each of these issues. Reminiscent of Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man, Vilson paints a picture of his life as a student, and as a teacher, in New York City, all the while his words relating to students and teachers everywhere. Be prepared to set aside some time. Once you open it, you won’t put it down until you’re done. And then Vilson’s words will continue to spin around in your head and will provide a forum for important, and necessary, discussions about teaching ALL children.

Cindi Risgbee
Finalist for National Teacher of the Year, Author of The Dream Teacher

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