José Luis Vilson, courtesy of @theJLV
José Luis Vilson, courtesy of @theJLV

Free and Open to Public

#TeacherLives Speaker Series

José Luis Vilson: This is Not a Test

Sunday, November 16th

4:00 – 5:00p: Book Talk, Q & A

5:00- 6:00p: Light Food and Refreshments

Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall, Swarthmore College

In his book This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. In this talk he will describe his rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader which takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice.

José Luis Vilson is a math educator for a middle school in the Inwood / Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, NY. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in mathematics education from the City College of New York. He is also a committed writer, activist, web designer, and father.

Follow on Twitter: #TeacherLives

For questions about the series please contact Edwin Mayorga or @eimayorga



Educational Studies, Sociology & Anthropology, Latin American Studies & The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility (all at Swarthmore College)

Reviews of This is Not a Test

Through the book runs references to rap music, to Hip-Hop, to other cultural references that flow naturally among those a generation far younger than mine and in a culture that is not mine. And yet, of course, it works for Vilson, because it is his generation and his culture. These references help to illustrate one of his central themes: that teachers must be able to identify with their students to understand them, to get below their surface, to make connections beyond academics, in order to reach them and teach them. He cares deeply what his students think and feel.

Diane Ravitch (read review)


Perhaps our task as readers and critics can be to see how certain stories might reclaim or decolonize these older genres, how they highlight the power dynamics and the cultural values we don’t often recognize or confront, and how they prompt us to consider not just whose stories get told but how these stories get told.

José Vilson’s soon-to-be-published book This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education does just that.

Audrey Watters, Hack Education blog (read review)


But if Vilson has a primary thesis, it’s to be found in the quote above: the “teacher voice” is sorely lacking in our conversations today about education and its role in the perpetual problems of race and class that dog our society.

Jersey Jazzman blog (read review)