Facing the threat of discipline and termination, more than 40 teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Chicago have organized an act of civil disobedience against the standardized testing madness. On March 3, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will require students to take the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test (ISAT), an annual standardized test, which will be phased out next year. Teachers -- who are child advocates -- will boycott administering the test. They will not waste valuable class time on another test -- this one in particular carries no stakes and is not aligned to the curriculum.
These brave teachers are taking a stand for their students, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers stands with them.
Saucedo Teacher (and IFT member) Sarah Chambers:
We are not afraid. We're standing strong for our kids and what is right ... This is one step towards reclaiming humanity and the joy of learning and education.
Sarah Chambers addresses press conference at Saucedo Scholastic Academy (Photo by Greg Goodman)
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett made clear in a letter to teachers that she takes "testing season" (her words) very seriously and that teachers should make it clear to parents that there will be no alternative instruction given to students whose parents have opted them out of the ISAT.
Byrd-Bennett continued her threats on Thursday stating that teachers boycotting the test could lose their certification.
This is outrageous.
We encourage parents to work with their teachers to opt out. We also strongly encourage CPS to reconsider their plans to punish teachers for doing the right thing. Hundreds of students from 25 Chicago schools have already opted-out.
Parents can opt their child out of taking the ISAT by simply informing their school's administration. A community group called "More Than a Score" is working to end the misuse of high-stakes standardized tests and have designed a toolkit for opting out students. The toolkit includes sample letters to school administrators, background information, and other tools for interested parents on their website.
Illinois Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis issued this video statement in support of the Saucedo teachers