Letter to the Tribune and Sun-Times on opting out

optoutstickerWe just sent this letter to the editors of the Sun-Times and Tribune. The Trib wrote today that “a school is not a democracy” so teachers should just stop complaining and give the test.

Here’s our response:

In communities all over Chicago, parents and teachers are opting out of the state standardized test, saying “Enough is enough!”

This is the last year for the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT), which schools will give to most students beginning on March 3. Next year, the state will replace the ISAT with another standardized test.

The ISAT is not a high stakes test this year for students or teachers. ISAT results are not made available until after the school year ends. Students are taking between 12-24 or more other standardized tests this year, far more than in past years. This results in more test stress affecting children as young as kindergarten age.

That is why hundreds of parents across scores of schools in Chicago have chosen to opt their children out of the ISAT. State law may require schools to administer tests but it does not require students to take the test.

The response of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) officials to parents’ decisions to opt their children out suggests that they feel very threatened. They have sent out a flurry of directives, threatening to fire cooperating teachers, flunk students who opt out, and take away school funds if too few children take the test. Much of this information has been incorrect or contradictory.

We can no longer ignore the overtesting that has reduced much of our children’s education to test prep. We call on the mayor, the CEO of CPS, the Chicago Board of Education, and ISBE to respect parents’ right to direct our children’s education, to treat opting out students respectfully and ethically, and, most importantly, to change the fundamental values in this district and this state that continue to prioritize test scores above high-quality education for all our children.

Contrary to the Tribune’s opinion, we believe that schools are the most important democratic institutions in America, and our children are our democracy’s future.


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