Uncle Ike’s Racist Wife

and their legacy of systemic racism

Linda vs Tracy

I was recently informed that one of my “detractors” is the wife of the owner of Uncle Ike’s, Ian Eisenberg. At first, I didn’t know who Linda Kadowaki was, so I did some sleuthing and discovered she’s married to and has children with Eisenberg. One of their sons attends a school in Seattle Public Schools (SPS), which, apparently, gives Linda the (perceived) right to Karen the fuck out of me with SPS. As soon as I was tipped off about her, I did a records request and came up with this series of emails between Kadowaki and several folks at SPS, including my direct supervisor, Diane DeBacker.

Uncle Ike’s has become one of Seattle’s gentrification poster boys, opening a store on the corner of 23rd and Union in 2014 only two blocks away from Garfield High School and other schools in SPS. When I first moved to Seattle in 2010, my first job was at the Key Bank on 23rd and Union, which I later learned was the site of the first Black owned bank in Seattle. It’s gone now, as are many other Black-owned businesses and homes that have been replaced with businesses like Uncle Ike’s. To add insult to injury, South Seattle Emerald reported that the 23rd and Union store earned an average of $13k per day in their first week in a neighborhood that is historically home to Black people who are disproportionately impacted by drug-related crimes.

So, I wasn’t completely shocked when I learned Linda is married to the racist gentrifier, Ian Eisenberg, but it was interesting to learn that she identifies as Asian and uses that as evidence that she’s not racist. 

It’s also interesting to know that she reported me to SPS hoping to get me fired for my “relentless… ‘anti white supremacy’ dogma,” and my reverse racism against white people (it’s a lot like the anti-antifa-ers). She included a screenshot from a Facebook group as evidence that I am a reverse racist and bully people. In the screenshot she provided, I’m explaining the Model Minority Myth about Asian-Americans who tend to do the dirty work of white racists in order to gain some sort of legitimacy in white spaces. It’s nothing I wouldn’t discuss in professional development, and I regularly taught 6th graders about the Model Minority Myth. According to Linda, she is bullied when someone teaches her history.

Linda vs Ethnic Studies

Her emails don’t stop with attacking me. She wrote several emails to Sara Pritchett and the district ombudsman complaining about the implementation of ethnic studies curriculum, where she admits to harassing teachers who taught ethnic studies.

Apparently, Joseph Goebbels wanted people to learn about their identities, because Linda wrote a lengthy email complaining about her son’s teacher spending so much time (less than a month) on students learning about their identities and their peers’ identities in history class.

It’s sad to me that she wants her son to believe his identity and his family aren’t part of US history, but she’s really complaining about the prompt, “Tell us something that people don’t know about you”? That’s a typical beginning of the year question for nearly all classrooms, even those without ethnic studies. What is she teaching her mixed-race children about who they are and their place in this country? 

Linda also feels bullied that her son is expected to refer to enslaved Africans as enslaved persons, and I bully parents for correcting their racist language.

I think Linda needs an ethnic studies course more than her children do, but I digress. Her and her husband seem to be throwing their racist weight around all over Seattle, but what’s more noteworthy is people are listening.

Linda and Seattle Public Schools

At no point in these email threads did any person question the legitimacy of Linda’s complaints about me or about ethnic studies. It’s interesting that a school district that claims to be anti-racist gives the time of day to people like Linda. How can educators be expected to implement anti-racist curricula and practices when Lindas and Karens can write emails calling for them to be fired, and those emails are used as evidence by SPS administrators to reprimand or fire anti-racist educators?

Currently, there are no policies or protections for educators to carry out the anti-racist policies and goals being created by the school board and SPS administration, including ethnic studies and Black studies. Linda teaming up with SPS to attack ethnic studies is evidence that educators not only need protection from racist families in SPS, but also racist administrators in SPS. And while policies are important, administrators who have a deep understanding of what systemic and institutionalized racism look like are also desperately needed. How many eyes were on these emails with not one person understanding that Linda, her complaints, and SPS acting on them is institutional racism? That’s unacceptable in a district claiming to be anti-racist. 

Anti-racism will never be a reality in SPS with current leadership. Nearly everyone in leadership has been there for decades with little to no results. Those who are new to their positions, including Juneau, DeBacker, and Kokx, have taken the district backwards.

Learn or Leave; When anti-bias training is too much


I’m writing this on Friday, September 4th, the first day of school in my district, and I want to acknowledge the trauma everyone is experiencing right now, particularly educators who are tasked with such a monumental, unprecedented job right now. I see you not receiving the support and training you need. I see you being blamed for the ineptitude of district administrators. I see you. I see all of you, and my sights are locked in on educators of Color. I see the added layers of stress and trauma you’re dealing with because systemic racism has been flayed open for everyone to see, but you’re not just looking at it. You’re inside it, surrounded by it, suffocating in it. I see you and I love you. Hold on.

This brings me to my topic today. We are dying, emotionally and literally. White peoples’ reluctance to learn and act is killing us. White people and the people of Color who aid and abet them are killing us. You are killing us. Here’s what that looks like: 

Imagine this: You ask a group of educators if they’ve ever engaged in anti-bias training. One-third of the group responds, “No.” That’s about right (white). You were kind of expecting that. What you didn’t expect is for a quarter of the educators to respond, “I don’t know.” How does an educated person not know if they’ve engaged in anti-bias training? Here’s a list of reasons I brainstormed:

  • One quarter of the educators surveyed have some kind of memory loss issues.
  • They had the training and then were neuralized.
  • Their dog ate the homework for the anti-bias training so they didn’t retain what they learned in the training.
  • The training was so completely watered-down that the anti-biasiness was unrecognizable and the educators weren’t quite sure what they were supposed to be learning about.
  • The training was not applicable to their every day experiences or their practice, so it didn’t make sense and didn’t “stick.” 
  • The language used in the training was not clearly defined, leaving the educators wondering what they just participated in.

Ok, ok… the first three are just me being silly, but the scenario is something that actually happened, and the last three bullet points are totally plausible, especially in very white spaces. Which reminds me, when’s the last time I mentioned Washington State is above the national average for percentage of white educators? Cuz it is. We’re about 90% white, while the national average is about 85%

What happens in these very white spaces is what Paul Gorski calls the Pacing for Privilege detour. Another infamous phrase that could be used to describe this phenomenon is “meeting people where they are.” That phrase, along with “it is what it is,” are the bane of my existence when it comes to anti-racism. Children? Students? Yes, we should meet them where they are, but educators and decision makers? Nope. They need to catch up or shut up. But when we take the pacing for privilege detour, we coddle and maintain the status quo. The language and approach using this strategy are so tone-policed that they are less than useless. It’s easy to understand how someone might not be sure what they were being taught or why. This strategy gives people the impression they’re doing something – at least the people who recognize it to be an anti-bias training. For the other 25%? Who knows what it’s doing for them. 

I understand the argument that if we go into white spaces full steam, we run the risk of people shutting down and not hearing our message, but WE ARE DYING. And I haven’t even mentioned anti-racist training. We’re talking about anti-bias training, which is remedial learning. I always say it’s for the people who don’t know they’re white, yet. (Yes, many white people can’t even handle conversations about them being white.) Ijeoma Oluo says if your anti-racist practices centers the needs of white people, it’s actually white supremacy. Dr. Martin Luther King said we want freedom now, not gradually. We have to start with action-oriented, anti-racist education and training with specific, measurable goals imbedded. Not anti-bias, not equity, not even racial equity – anti-racism. 

I recognize we won’t reach everyone, and that’s not my goal, but in acknowledging that, I must be willing to push those we can reach farther and faster. We don’t have time for them to wait to figure shit out. I’m willing to do some remedial work and study some vocabulary, but only if it starts with, “Shit is fucked up and we gotta get to work.” Bias? Yes… that’s a given. Racism? Yes… that’s a given. Anti-racist trainings should be the place we start and action should be the focus of those trainings. There’s enough on the interwebs about implicit bias that people can go back and educate themselves. When I’m in front of a group, I don’t have time for that. I’m focused on what we need to do NOW.

One thing that prevents this from happening, in my opinion, is weak leadership. Leaders need to do what is right, not what is comfortable or easy. They have to be willing to piss off the people who stand on the wrong side of the issue. When people are dying there is no debate; one is either wrong or right. A racially just leader will mandate unapologetic trainings and explicitly state that anti-racism is the culture of the organization, leaving those who prefer to opt-out of training with the choice to learn or leave.

Which Comes First? Anti-Racism or Racial Equity

image credit:

I recently completed what amounts to a couple of chapters worth of a report on what ethnic studies educators in Western Washington believe they need to implement a successful ethnic studies program. You can read the results on the Washington State Ethnic Studies Now website. One of the discussions sparked by the data I collected is about which comes first – anti-racism or racial equity. The respondents of my interviews believe that anti-racism has to come first because without it, racial equity is just a buzzword. Others in my teacher activist circles believe that racial equity comes first and anti-racism is the end goal. At least one of my friends believes that both can happen at the same time. I’m grateful that I have such thoughtful and critical educators as friends and colleagues. For me, personally, I tend to agree more with the educators I interviewed.

Here’s how the educators I interviewed defined equity, racial equity, and anti-racism:

EquityEvery educator responded that equity means providing access to systems and resources, focusing on groups that are historically and presently marginalized. 

Racial Equity – This term means the same thing as equity, but with a focus on race and acknowledgment of systems of racial oppression.

Anti-racism – This is where there is some variation in opinion among the educators. Every educator used the term “dismantle” in their definition. They all see anti-racism as dismantling racially unjust systems, institutions, practices, and beliefs. A couple educators included capitalism as one system that needs to be dismantled, particularly when it comes to high-stakes testing and standardized, Eurocentric curriculum, and a few white educators included the need to work on their own racism and biases.

In this blog post I want to talk about some differences between terms used in “equity” initiatives in education. I definitely don’t think we can use “equity” to address racial injustice in education. It’s too easily co-opted if it’s not at least “racial equity.” I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, focusing mostly on culturally responsive teaching, but I’m glad I’ve put it off so I can cover some of my new learning and musings. Specifically I want to argue which comes first, anti-racism or racial equity. Ready? Here we go!


Yuck. Multiculturalism is a necessary evil. We can’t be anti-racist or teach ethnic studies if we aren’t including some kind of multicultural component in our praxis, but just yuck. I say yuck because TOO MANY people stop there and call it equitable. In fact, while visiting a principal in Seattle to discuss ethnic studies, the principal was compelled to inform me that they “already do ethnic studies.” “Don’t you see the posters of different cultures in the halls? Our staff is very diverse, too.”


I worked in collaboration with several colleagues to come up with this definition of multiculturalism and why multiculturalism is problematic on its own.

Multicultural education is frequently content about the cultures of different groups, often groups considered non-white, which creates the idea of white being the “default race.” Non-white groups are taught about in terms of “contributions” or other additive language.

The teaching of multicultural content operates from the assumption that the problem of racism is an under appreciation of different cultures, and therefore the solution is the celebration of different cultures. What makes this problematic is that 1) it does not address power 2) in defining discrete cultures, people and cultures are necessarily reduced in complexity. 

Critical multiculturalism can address systems of power, but most incarnations of multicultural education are “liberal multiculturalism” which focuses on surface level culture.

Surface level culture can be defined as the parts of culture that are easily identifiable to people outside of that culture; for example, food, language, dress, music, holidays, and traditions.

Even more disturbing is that multiculturalism is where many teacher preparation programs start and stop in terms of “equity” training for prospective educators. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend Equity Literacy for All by Katy Swalwell and Paul Gorski to help you understand why multiculturalism is bad for kids of Color and white trumptaco_horiz2-1024x751kids. Knowing some trivia facts about “other” peoples’ culture gives white people a false sense of being non-racist. A person can know, and even appreciate, various cultures while still being and acting racist. And we know non-racist = racist.


So here I argue that a person needs to be anti-racist before they can teach multiculturalism. Without the critical race theoretical frame, it’s just liberal multiculturalism. It’s surface level information that makes white people feel better about themselves.

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT)

I can’t lie. I love Zaretta Hammond’s book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. I love it because I believe that in another dimension I’m a brain surgeon. The brain is so fascinating. I remember learning in my undergrad program that the brain is the hardware and culture is the software. I also love the analogy that culture is the lens of the camera and frames what and how we see in the world. I believe that. I see how whiteness has warped our sense of culture, what we value, and what we consider unworthy. BUT Zaretta Hammond herself says CRT is not “social justice” nor does it require “anti-bias” training. It’s not inherently anti-racist. I believe it is a piece of the puzzle, but can do more harm when not prefaced with anti-racist pedagogies. As Dr. H. Samy Alim said in a keynote I attended last year at a conference in L.A., “CRT has been picked up and read through a white, hegemonic lens of assimilation.”


Districts all over the country have jumped on the CRT bandwagon precisely because of what Dr. Alim said. And because the word “culture” is more palatable than “anti-racist” they can’t wait to “do” CRT. They read the book and are suddenly experts creating and implementing Pinterest worthy CRT strategies (seriously – search “culturally responsive teaching” on Pinterest). UntitledThe problem is most educators can’t even correctly define CRT. People frequently confuse culturally relevant teaching for culturally responsive teaching. They further confuse culturally relevant teaching with culturally relevant pedagogy. Words are important in these conversations, but because we don’t dig this deep in professional development, people use these terms interchangeably which works to dilute their meaning, and thus their efficacy.

First, culturally relevant teaching is using content that is relevant to students. Culturally relevant content does not have anything to do with anti-racism unless that’s what you make it about. We can use Minecraft to teach kids engineering and call it culturally relevant. Culturally responsive teaching, the way Zaretta Hammond wrote about it, is about instruction. It’s about being responsive to the varied needs of your learners and rejecting a one-size fits all approach keeping in mind that culture is the software of the brain. Again, you can use culturally responsive practices in a classroom and never teach about race or oppression, or even consider them in lesson planning.

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings is responsible for the term culturally relevant pedagogy, introducing it about two decades ago. Culturally relevant pedagogy goes further than CRT because it calls for educators to create sociopolitical awareness in their students. Dr. Billings, however, recently wrote a chapter for the book Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies in which she says culturally relevant pedagogy doesn’t go far enough; even it isn’t anti-racist. So here I argue that when an educator hasn’t studied critical race theory in depth, they can do more harm with all of the types of teaching and pedagogy discussed under this CRT heading.

Racial Equity

Here I’m at a point where I believe we will not achieve racial equity if we aren’t first anti-racist. I can see how both can be done at the same time, but even that comes with the danger of making decisions called “racial equity” without the proper anti-racist analysis. I used this graphic with my sixth graders as a vocabulary inference tool.


My students worked together to define equity and how it’s different from equality. To paraphrase their definitions, equality means everyone starts out the same and equity means everyone ends up the same. When I think about this argument of which needs to come first, I go back to this image. In order for everyone to end up the same, or get what they all need (apples), we first had to dismantle and reconstruct the system (boxes) used for people to get what they need. To achieve racial equity in education we have to be anti-racist first and dismantle then reconstruct education.

Counter Revolutionaries in a Time of Crisis

Image credit: Seattle Times

Paulo Freire warned us about counter revolutionaires. He defined them as “revolutionaires who became reactionary.” But in times of crises, like now with the COVID-19 pandemic, how do we prevent revolutionaries from becoming reactionary? Freire gave us an antidote for counter revolutionaries: dialogue. Right now, April 5th, 2020, is an interesting time to watch leaders and previous revolutionaries react to this crisis. People who used to be at odds with one another are suddenly allies, supporting each other for the sake of “getting through this.” I suppose, to a certain degree, I understand this. However, hidden beneath the “let’s all get along” narrative is the “don’t talk about bad leadership” mandate; essentially, restricting dialogue and critical analysis about leaders who were once considered lacking. We see this on the national level with many leaders calling to rally behind Trump because he is the president. And here, in Seattle, many are calling to rally behind our district superintendent. It’s an interesting phenomenon. How does a global pandemic make a poor leader better overnight? Why is criticism taboo during a crisis?

Critical Dialogue Is More Critical Than Ever

Upon reflection, I can see why, during this time of crisis, people who don’t regularly work with me would dismiss my continued call outs of the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools; from the outside I probably look like a perpetually angry malcontent. It’s true I am angry a lot, but most of my time is spent on creating, collaborating, and laughing with people in my community. I love the work I do because of the people I get to work with. Calling someone out only comes after communication has broken down or has been intentionally shut down.

The superintendent actively and routinely shuts down dialogue and acts without collaboration. This is a person who has repeatedly earned criticism and disapproval from a wide range of community members. Whether or not I agree with each of these actions, the fact remains there is a plethora of examples of her poor judgment. She cancelled a Native American after school program and an after school program focused on academic support for Black students, has led the cover up of several teacher abuse stories for which she was slow to apologize and left many families feeling like her apology was severely lacking, continues to ignore claims of racism from students and staff, and continues to refuse to support a meaningful ethnic studies program despite the fact the school board has unanimously supported it and various student groups, including her own student advisory group, demand it. She has offended and alienated educators of Color who have become leaders on a national level in ethnic studies.

The above examples are only examples of how her leadership continues to harm largely communities of Color. There are also several examples of how she has alienated large swaths of affluent, white families. Though I agree with some of the decisions that angered white families, like the adoption of Amplify Science and the dismantling of the highly capable/gifted cohort, the ways in which they were implemented demonstrate her lack of concern for collaboration and her dismissal of classroom educators. For example, she pushed the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) program on Washington Middle School (WMS) despite a no vote from the educators at WMS. While many educators expressed support for TAF, they explained the no vote was a result of a lack of communication from Juneau about how TAF would be implemented and how it would impact their jobs. And just this week, Juneau showed her contempt for educators again by sending out a Hunger Games style mandate that educators show up for childcare duty on top of their teaching jobs (currently complicated by transitioning to an all virtual environment) without so much as mentioning her intent to the teachers’ union.

There have been several attempts by all of the people and organizations impacted by this poor leadership to collaborate and reasonably address these issues through dialogue, but it only falls on apathetic ears. After the superintendent interrupted a regularly scheduled ethnic studies work meeting, chastising the group for not completing a task that her own cabinet members blocked the group from working on, some members of the group asked for an apology. The superintendent’s response was, “I’m not prepared to have that conversation today.” When I look back at these examples of poor leadership, I’m left to wonder how much resentment and anger could have been prevented with dialogue. And now, when we should be hypercritical of leadership, particularly how leaders communicate, some are asking to give her grace by not vocalizing criticism – restricting dialogue.

Counter Revolutionaries are Contradictions to the People

“Almost never, however, does a revolutionary leadership group perceive that it constitutes a contradiction to the people. Indeed, this perception is painful, and the resistance may serve as a defense mechanism. After all, it is not easy for leaders who have emerged through adherence to the oppressed to recognize themselves as being in contradiction with those to whom they adhered. It is important to recognize this reluctance when analyzing certain forms of behavior on the part of revolutionary leaders who involuntarily become a contradiction (although not antagonists) of the people.” – Freire

This is something I keep with me always as I reflect on my responsibility as a “leader”. I put that in quotations because I continue to be a reluctant leader. But this is something I’m seeing happen in our current reality. I understand the desire to rally behind a leader and work together through these challenging events, but it feels more reactionary than revolutionary. Some might say a crisis is the best time to react. I disagree whole-heartedly. A crisis is the best opportunity for a revolution. Why rally behind a leader that has repeatedly demonstrated their inability to successfully lead when right now is the time exceptional leadership is required? I think that’s why Dr. Fauci and Governor Cuomo are gaining popularity. They are voices of reason that counteract the poor leadership of the president, made painfully more visible during this crisis. Similarly, we are seeing in public education how this crisis is opening the wounds of racial, class, and disability disparities and how many of the superintendent’s actions have exacerbated them since her arrival. Now is the time for revolutionary action, not reactionary solidarity.

I urge those in leadership to reject reactionary solidarity and embrace revolutionary action and leadership. When we think of centering students and communities of Color, is the current leader the best person for the job? If the answer is no, how does a global pandemic improve their leadership qualities and abilities? I urge all people to continue to engage in critical dialogue and not allow their fear of the present erase the harm of the past and the future neglect of the communities we serve and fight for.

My Views on Assessments in Critical Pedagogy

Hi! It’s February – Black History Month and Black Lives Matter at School Week starts Monday, February 3. My district kicked off this month by placing me on administrative leave for calling out acts of racism! And, fyi, we’re still waiting for the apology we demanded last month…

I am taking this break to reflect on the why of my work and how I can do it in a sustainable way that protects my mental well-being as well as my economic well-being while also not giving up on the community I love.

As such, this month’s post is a paper written for my doctoral program on my philosophy of assessment. I may have something to write about for March’s installment pertaining to my current situation, but I feel like this is a strong piece and a required shift in how we view assessments.


There are two types of assessment used in education: formative and summative. A formative assessment is generally defined as assessing students’ needs and using data collected from these assessments to guide instruction. A summative assessment is generally defined as assessing the cumulative knowledge and/or skills gained from an activity, lesson, or unit. Formative assessments are seen more as informal, such as exit tickets or assessing group discussions, while summative assessments can be very formal, like end of year standardized tests (Frey & Fisher, 2011).

The Ethnic Studies Program in Seattle Public Schools aims to create an instructional model in which summative assessments are synonymous with evaluation, which Dr. Cullen defines as an analysis of a program (Laureate Education, 2017) and formative assessments drive curriculum and instruction. The Ethnic Studies Program uses a critical pedagogy model that views learning as cyclical and ongoing, therefor requiring all assessments be formative, even those conducted at the end of an activity, lesson, or unit (Freire, 1968). While the educator may not continue with students past a semester or school year, the students are expected to continue their learning beyond individual teachers’ classrooms, and assessments should be just as student-centered as instruction.

Assessment as a Driver of Instruction

The Ethnic Studies Program calls out culturally responsive teaching and critical pedagogy as key to instruction in addition to content that is explicitly anti-racist (Castro-Gill, et al, 2018). Both instructional models are categorized by Dr. Wilson (n.d.) as “Personalist” and “Social Interaction”, which closely align with the ways in which education scholars define learner-centered instruction and/or curriculum (Cullen, Harris, & Hill, 2012). In a learner-centered model, students are assessing themselves and their peers in nearly every interaction as they drive the learning. Teachers, in the role of facilitator, are eventually freed from direct instruction in a process Frey and Fisher (2011) call “gradual release of responsibility” wherein the goal is to instruct and model tasks and then observe and formatively assess independent and collaborative learning.

Richmond, et al (2019) argue that strong learner-centered curriculum starts with a strong learner-centered syllabus. As such, the Ethnic Studies Program aims to create curriculum and instruction that is backwards planned, starting with what students will be able to do and understand when they graduate from high school instead of what teachers plan to teach. To assist in this backwards planning, the Ethnic Studies Program has created a series of content-specific frameworks with guiding questions (Seattle Public Schools, n.d.). These questions are meant to help educators backwards plan, starting with what students need to know and be able to do which then informs formative assessment. Having a strong backwards plan creates an environment in which teachers know exactly what to assess students for, even in the simplest of interactions, such as academic discussions among students and their peers. Black and William (2010) argue this model, which focuses on the interactions happening inside the “black box”, or classroom, is key to raising standards and improving outcomes for students.

Field Observations

            An exemplar of the model described above is the sixth-grade ethnic studies world history classroom of Andrew Chase at Denny International Middle School. Andrew uses four guiding questions from the Ethnic Studies Framework that inform his curriculum and instruction for this year-long course (Seattle Public Schools, n.d.):

  1. How have power dynamics changed throughout history?
  2. What role do the natural environment and cultural geography play in the development of humans?
  3. How are systems of knowledge – science and technology – influencing power and oppression?
  4. How can we critically analyze the biases created by power dynamics and leverage this to change oppressive systems today?

He uses these questions to first develop end of unit assessments which inform the lessons, activities, and informal assessments students will engage in throughout the year. As described earlier, Andrew views each assessment as formative, including end of unit assessments, which are nearly all collaborative, small-group projects. Andrew’s syllabus uses student-centered, collaborative language like “we” and “us” that centers the expected experiences and outcomes of students rather than the content Andrew will deliver.

A typical class period starts out with what Andrew calls “Social Vision”. This is an entry task that activates prior knowledge and asks students to make inferences about a picture, graphic, video, and/or quote related to the day’s lesson. Students first engage in an “elbow partner” discussion responding to prompts provided by Andrew. They then have silent time to write down their thoughts about the prompts and the discussion with their peers. Andrew then asks for students to share out their inferences and come to some consensus on what the “Social Vision” means. This is a formative assessment that helps Andrew understand what direction the day’s lesson may need to take to fill in gaps of understanding.

Students then engage in some form of collaborative reading, like a jigsaw, or “data mining”. The latter may take the form of looking up information in an atlas, a textbook, or online source, but it is almost always collaborative. During collaborative work, students are assigned roles (scribe, researcher, reader, project manager, etc) and each student is assessing how well they and their peers are performing their roles. During this time, Andrew is checking in with groups to informally assess their understanding of the task and content.

End of unit assessments are almost always collaborative, and students assess each other on effort and collaboration using Common Core Standards for speaking and listening as a guide. Since Andrew uses the four guiding questions for a year-long course, the course is cyclical and thematic in nature, which allows Andrew to use end of unit tests as formative assessments because students are expected to apply themes to future units. For example, in a unit on the Agricultural Revolution, students learn about how human settlements negatively impacted river-valley ecosystems. Students will use this knowledge in the next unit on sustainability and climate injustice, particularly pollution in the Duwamish River in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle where many students at Denny International Middle School live.


Critical pedagogy asks that students become and remain life-long learners committed to critical analysis of their environment with the purpose of eliminating injustices. To prepare students to be critical and just citizens, an effective Ethnic Studies Program must view all assessment as formative. Summative assessments that are more evaluative in nature signal to students that learning is over. This is not a message the Ethnic Studies Program wants to send to young people. A critical, cyclical student-centered model of instruction creates an environment in which all assessments are formative and learning is never summed up.





Black, P. & William, D. (2010). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), 81-902. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-

Castro-Gill, T., VanDerPloeg, L., Alonzo, A., Charlton, J., Au, W. & Guzmán, G. (2018). Seattle

Public Schools anti-racist content and practice definitions. Seattle Public Schools. Retrieved from

Cullen, R., Harris, M., Hill, R. R. (2012). The learner-centered curriculum; Design and

implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Freire, P. (1968). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Frey, L. & Fisher, D. (2011). The formative assessment action plan: Practical steps to more

successful teaching and learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2017). Models of assessment [Video file].

Baltimore, MD: Author.

Richmond, A. S., Morgan, R. K., Slattery, J. M., Mitchell, N. G., & Cooper, A. G. (2019).

Project syllabus: An exploratory study of learner-centered syllabi. Teaching of Psychology, 46(1), 6-15. doi: 10.1177/0098628318816129.

Seattle Public Schools. (n.d.). Ethnic Studies Frameworks. Retrieved from

Wilson, L. O. (n.d.). The second principle: Models of teaching. Retrieved from