Chicago Parents Opt Out Update

Teachers continue bold and moral stance against unnecessary low-stakes test

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) this week continues its steadfast support of the teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Thomas Drummond Montessori School who are boycotting the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), but is extremely concerned about the ever-growing confusion generated by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in its communication to parents regarding their opt-out rights. Thousands of parents across the city have chosen to opt their children out of the ISAT, and as the number of opt-out decisions increase, the district is creating mass chaos in homes with dishonesty and outright lies.

CPS has not only attempted to ignore parent opt-out letters, but at some schools, staffers have suggested that parents themselves volunteer to supervise students who have been opted out of the ISAT. At other schools, the district is stating that it is the choice of the student—and not the parent–to opt out, and in one of the most egregious actions, Local School Council members were told that they would have to pay a fine if students were opted out of the exam and their schools would lose federal funding.  The confusion was spread through as many as five, robo calls to Saucedo and Drummond parents over the weekend.

“This culture of confusion and disinformation is nothing new for CPS, but they sadly have found a way to take it to the next level,” said CTU VP Jesse Sharkey. “At a time when parents are taking an active stand to guide the course of their children’s education, the district responds with threats and fear tactics as it works to hinder the process in any way it can.

“Who decides what’s best for students—testing companies and bureaucrats or their parents and teachers,” Sharkey said, noting the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers have voiced support for the boycott.

The district also continues to threaten educators who boycott the ISAT, but the CTU remains united in its support of these teachers during this critically important time. Joining the union are more than 120 university educators nationwide who have signed a letter of support for the teachers at Saucedo and Drummond taking a stand against standardized testing. “We understand assessment as the process of gathering evidence about learning, from multiple sources, so that teachers can better support student learning,” the letter stated. “The ISAT, in contrast, contributes virtually nothing.”

The CTU will be on hand at both school campuses on Tuesday to support educators who refuse to administer the ISAT, despite district threats.

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