Brave New Voices is an annual event put on by the non-profit, Youth Speaks Inc. According to the website:

Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks Inc. is a multi-faceted organization that understands and believes that the power, insight, creativity, and passion of young people can change the world. Brave New Voices was created by Youth Speaks, Inc in 1998 after the inaugural Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in San Francisco—the first poetry slam dedicated to youth in the nation’s history. To learn more, get involved, and attend other events, visit

Unlike organizations like TED, which publish free versions of their videos online via YouTube and other publishing channels, Brave New Voices / Youth Speaks Inc. has a contract with HBO for exclusive, commercial video distribution. The HBO website for Brave New Voices includes a limited number of videos relating to the show, but the full series is for sale in the HBO store for $20. It’s a shame this outstanding event has not YET made the transition to an IPTV / freemium distribution model, especially since the explicit goal of many of the event participants is social and political change in their communities. Locking up video behind a paywall is not a guarantee ideas won’t go viral, but it certainly hurts those prospects.

Warning: The following video includes some profanity (at the 0:32 second mark) and may not, as a result, be something you’ll want to share in a large group setting.

This past fall, Karen Montgomery told me about the YouTube video, Brave New Voices 2010 – “Love Letter To Albuquerque Public Schools.” I finally took two minutes and watched it this week. These students have some strong opinions about standardized testing and the “standardized box” our high stakes accountability school culture promotes in their community.

Does the message by Miguel Figueroa, Reed Bobroff, Olivia Gatwood, and Khalid Binsunni ring true for schools and students in your area?

I’d love to know the backstory to this video, as well as what things have happened (if anything) as a result of this public performance and shared video. The blog posts I found online sharing the video (here, here, here, and here) mainly just referenced the video. The bloggers did not provide additional background about the video or its after-effects.

The words to this performance piece are available on the HBO website.

I contacted UntilWeTurnBlue, the poster of the original video, to find out if they had any information about what’s happened (or not happened) as as result of the performance and the video being shared. He didn’t. He had simply recorded the videos from TV and posted them to YouTube.

If you have additional information / more backstory about these videos and their effects in Albuquerque specifically please let me know by commenting or contacting me in another way.

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One Response to Upset about Standardized Testing (Love Letter To Albuquerque Public Schools)

  1. teachergirl10 says:

    I graduated from APS in 2006, and am now a teacher there. I think it’s awesome that these students realize the merciless stifling of creativity that has surfaced in the face of all these standardized tests, and I’m glad that they are voicing their opinions and doing something about it.

    That being said, this is not a problem that is only inherent to Albuquerque Public Schools–standardized tests and boxed-in curriculum are a national problem. Administrators across the nation need to listen to these opinions and realize what the onslaught of standardized testing is doing to the next generation.

    As for APS’s reaction: this group performed for my English 10 classes (several of them graduated from the school I in which I teach), and from what I understood, they have been banned from performing the poem on APS property.

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