Anonymous comes to Montclair

So, a couple of years ago we moved to Montclair, NJ, in part because of the excellent public school system. There was some excitement here last Friday, when some “assessments” were posted on the web in advance of their being administered to students.

There is some confusion (at least on my part), and some conflicting reports about what, exactly these tests are for. They are some combination of:

  1. Evaluation of pedagogical methods
  2. Evaluation of teachers
  3. Evaluation of students

In any event, these tests were supposed to be given starting this week, but 14 of the “more than 60” tests were posted online, which, of course, severely compromises the integrity of the tests. The tests were quickly taken down (although nothing ever really disappears from the internet), and the next couple of days were filled with pretty much what you would expect: outrage and conspiracy theories from parents; defensiveness and corporate double-speak from the superintendent’s office.

Then, today, an Anonymous video went up claiming responsibility for the hack . Suddenly, things get interesting. Go here to watch the video. Go here to read the commentary from Baristanet (the local online paper) — entertaining in part because of the apparent lack of familiarity with Anonymous.

Of course, the usual caveats apply. Due to its open, self-organized nature (anyone can generate an Anonymous-style video), it is difficult to know if Anonymous was actually responsible (as opposed to taking credit after the fact), or what it even means for “Anonymous” to be responsible. However, it takes something that looked a lot like run-of-the-mill bureaucratic incompetence and reframes it as a guerrilla struggle against the corporate takeover of public education.

So, what’s the story then?

Well, now that there’s an Anonymous video involved, I’m going to find out.

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