Haymarket Books
Books for changing the world
This Is Not A Test
A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education
Vilson, a teacher from an urban school composed of black and poor youth, challenges racism and inequality in the classroom.

José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. His rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, TheJoseVilson.com. He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice.

José Vilson is a middle school math educator for in the Inwood/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. He writes for Edutopia, GOOD, and TransformED / Future of Teaching, and his work has appeared in Education Week, CNN.com, Huffington Post, and El Diario / La Prensa.

  • "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

    "Jose Vilson writes from a place of authority about the intersection of race, class and America’s education system. His straight-talk about the absurdity of America’s test obsession, failure to meet or even acknowledge the needs of an increasingly diverse student population, and a “reform” movement that has reformed nothing, failed at much and distracted from students’ very real needs is a telling portal on what’s really going on in American education today. Those who can relate to Vilson’s experiences as a student or a teacher will welcome his unvarnished honesty and reflections. And those for whom this is terra incognita will find an insightful and illuminating window on the educational experiences of America’s emerging majority—students of many hues and languages, whose families struggle everyday, for whom their education may be the only way up, yet who too often are failed by systems ill-equipped to foster their success. Vilson’s visceral accounts remind us of the humanity of teachers—their struggles and triumphs, their frustration with forces outside their classroom walls and, above all, their devotion to their students. By telling his own story and those of his students, Vilson shows why teacher voice is essential to shedding the failures of the past and to reclaiming the promise of public education." —Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers

    "As the principal of Morrill, a school that serves 850 students from preK-8th grade, this book hit home for me. Our school is nearly evenly split between Latino and African-American students, and 90% qualify for free or reduced lunch status. It is critical that we, as educators, can discuss issues of race and class with our students and with our colleagues. Mr. Vilson's book is one of the most honest, relevant, and timely books I have read. His words have been inspiring to me, and helped me reflect on my own practice. I gave a copy to every member of our faculty and staff so that they too can find the inspiration and reflect on their practices as educators." —Michael Beyer, Ed.D., NBCT and Principal, Morrill Math & Science School

    "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

    "In its telling, Jose Vilson's evocative collection of essays are ferociously honest and, as expected from someone whose creative impulses are informed by hip-hop, unapologetic and lyrical. A thoroughly engaging narrative about the intersection of race and culture, identity, economic disparity, and education, This is Not A Test is a must-read for parents and educators who want to understand, truly and deeply, the challenges inner-city students face. It was, after all, written by one of those children, a young man from a marginalized community, who grew up and bum-rushed the system he dedicated h