Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chicago: Testing Opt-Out Capital

In some cases, principals have told teachers they will be arrested if they leaflet parents on the public sidewalks outside their schools, even though the teachers are distributing the materials on their own time.

The explosion of the Chicago Opt Out movement comes despite orders from CPS administrators -- usually "Chief Officers" of the school system's 13 so-called "Networks" (which are what Chicago's sub-districts are currently called -- to principals demanding that the principals bully the parents and children into rescinding opt out forms which have been submitted by the parents.

The Opt Out of the ISAT campaign is distinct from the Boycott Campaign, in which teachers are refusing to administer the ISAT tests. So far, two elementary schools (Saucdeo and Drummond) have announced that their teachers have voted not to administer the tests, while individual teachers at dozens of other schools have confirmed to Substance that they will not administer the tests, usually for what amounts to "conscientious objection.".... http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4854&section=Article
Great reporting from George Schmidt in Chicago. Note that CORE, the caucus that runs the union - as opposed to the CTU itself - is leading the charge. That would be like Unity doing something like this --- Ok, you can stop laughing.
Chicago parents begin movement to opt out of tests. Stay tuned, the number of opt-outs grows each day. (Visit the article at Substance to see the long list of opt-out schools)
OPT OUT NEWS: Parents at more than 74 Chicago elementary schools have opted their children out of the ISAT tests by the evening before the testing program, which begins March 4, 2014

George N. Schmidt - March 03, 2014

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4854&section=Article
Parents at at least 74 Chicago elementary schools (out of roughly 500) have requested that their children be opted out of the ISAT (Illinois State Achievement Tests) testing program as of March 3, 2014. The update on the number of schools where opt outs have been verified was provided by the Chicago Teachers Union on the even of the testing cycle, which is scheduled to begin on March 4, 2014 and extend through March 14. The number of individual children who will be opting out of the test exceeds 1,000 (including the two sons of this reporters, whose elementary age sons attend O.A. Thorp Elementary School).

The Opt Out of the ISAT campaign is distinct from the Boycott Campaign, in which teachers are refusing to administer the ISAT tests. So far, two elementary schools (Saucdeo and Drummond) have announced that their teachers have voted not to administer the tests, while individual teachers at dozens of other schools have confirmed to Substance that they will not administer the tests, usually for what amounts to "conscientious objection."

The explosion of the Chicago Opt Out movement comes despite orders from CPS administrators -- usually "Chief Officers" of the school system's 13 so-called "Networks" (which are what Chicago's sub-districts are currently called -- to principals demanding that the principals bully the parents and children into rescinding opt out forms which have been submitted by the parents. The ISAT program only applies to elementary children, and none of those who have asked to opt out is older than 14 years old to Substance's knowledge. Opt Out is a right of parents.

The pressure on parents to rescind opt out letters has been growing since the movement to Opt Out has grown. Principals have also threatened teachers who have encouraged parents to opt out their children. The threats have included unpaid days off and other sanctions. In some cases, principals have told teachers they will be arrested if they leaflet parents on the public sidewalks outside their schools, even though the teachers are distributing the materials on their own time.

More than 40,000 Opt Out leaflets have been distributed by members of the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE), since the Opt Out movement began a few weeks ago. Many parents and teachers have also gotten the leaflets duplicated at their own expense. A CORE fundraising benefit at Chicago's Second City helped raise the money to pay for the leaflets that have been helping to build the movement.

The list (alphabetized) as of the end of the school day on March 3, 2014 was the following. The ISAT is only given in the elementary schools, but some high schools (listed at the bottom of the list) have "academic centers" which serve seventh and eight graders.

The Opt Out movement is also being built by several community and parent groups, including More Than A Score, PURE, Parents 4 Teachers, Raise Your Hand, and other groups too numerous to list. Parents and teachers expect the Opt Out movement to expand after thousands of children see their fellow students opting out when the testing program begins on March 4, 2014.


Website URLs.
More Than A Score: http://morethanascorechicago.org/.
PURE (Parents United for Responsible Education): http://pureparents.org/

CTU PRESS RELEASE ISSUED ON MARCH 3, 2014:

ISAT BOYCOTT SPREADS TO 74 SCHOOLS... Parents choose education over indoctrination by opting their children out


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin. March 3, 2014 312/329-6250

CHICAGO - Despite repeated threats and miscommunication from the school district, parents at 74 Chicago Public Schools are opting their children out of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). Teachers at two schools, Saucedo and Drummond, said they intend to boycott the low-stakes test when it is to be formerly administered on Tuesday. (Source: More Than A Score: http://morethanascorechicago.org/).


Via robo calls and other scare tactics, CPS officials are telling parents that that if too many parents have their children opt out, the district faces losing state and federal funding. Catalyst Chicago, an independent publication dedicated to education, says: "Loss of such funding is unprecedented and at most it could trigger reallocating funds, but even that is highly unlikely...."

Students are not legally obligated to take the ISAT and parents have the legal right to "direct the upbringing and education of their children."

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