MTAS statement in support of boycotting Drummond teachers

Statement given today at press conference with Drummond teachers who boycotted the test:

I am speaking on behalf of More Than A Score, a coalition of Chicago parents, teachers, and students fighting against the misuse and overuse of standardized testing in the Chicago Public Schools.

We are here in support of the teachers here at Drummond and at Saucedo school who have refused to administer the ISAT. We fully encourage any parents who wish to opt their students out of the test to do so.

However, we are also here because we are very concerned about the ethical treatment of children and families who have opted out of the ISAT.

A webinar went to all CPS principals yesterday telling them to place the test in front of all children and read test directions verbatim to all children, even if their parents have opted them out of this test.

This comes after CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent two letters to parents telling them they have the right to opt out, and after years of CPS allowing children to opt out of the ISAT with no such treatment.

It is unclear where directives are coming from regarding this move, but pushing a policy of forcing children to refuse a test is wrong.

Putting children in a position that requires disobeying their teacher—the adult that their parents entrust them into the care of every school day—is wrongheaded and abusive.

Pressuring children, some as young as eight years old, to participate in activities against their parent or guardian’s wishes is unethical and immoral.

The argument that schools must administer the test because it is the law does not trump a parents’ decision of what’s best for their child. There has been a law in Illinois that children in elementary schools should get daily PE classes, but that law has been ignored by CPS officials for decades. There are federal laws are supposed to protect kids who require medical or special education services at school, and there are children in this district who are not getting those services.

CPS has said that the district may risk losing Title I funding due to testing opt outs. There is no evidence that this is the case. We have reviewed the US Code and the Code of Federal Regulations and found no references to automatic funding cuts for failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress. This district has not made AYP since at least 2005. Only 64 CPS schools made AYP last year. If there were any cuts, they’ve happened already.

CPS is wrong when it says that it is the law to put a test in front of a child whose parent or legal guardian has refused the test on their behalf.

During the ISAT testing window, we fully expect principals and teachers–the adults whom we entrust our children’s care to every day of the school year—to treat our children with kindness, to allow them to engage in alternative quiet activities during the test, and to respect our wishes as parents and guardians to direct our children’s education.

All parents should demand nothing less.

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