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In order to skip the ISAT, parents need to keep children at home during testing

My husband George Schmidt and I are going to keep our son Sam (a ten-year-old fifth grader at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy in Chicago) home during ISAT testing this week and next week. The tests for fifth grade include three tests of reading and three tests of math. According to the Illinois State Board of Education Administrative Code, the ISAT is a requirement for most Illinois public school children. However, when children miss the tests they simply don't have test scores for that year. Promotion to the sixth grade in the Chicago public schools is not contingent on ISAT test scores.

O. A. Thorp fifth grader Sam Schmidt will skip the ISAT this year. Instead of staying at school and reading a book (the way he does when skipping other standardized tests like the Scantron Performance Series and the pilot Common Core tests) Sam will have to stay home during the ISAT tests. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt. I talked to Sam's teacher on March 1 and told her Sam would not be testing. The next day I sent an email to O. A. Thorp principal Kathleen Bandolik informing her of the same.

I wrote:

"Dear Ms. Bandolik, George and I have decided to opt out Sam from the ISAT testing this year. It seems like the best way to handle this is to bring him to school on the test days after the test time is over. Wednesday, 3/7: 5th grade testing finished at 9:15; Thursday, 3/8: 10:15; Friday, 3/9: 10:15; Tuesday, 3/13: 9:15; If you would like to talk more about this, I'll be available after 2:30 today at 773-401-6201. If you would like me to compose a more formal letter regarding our choice (similar to other letters we have written about opting out of the other tests), I'd be happy to do so. I'm sorry if our decision to exclude Sam from the ISAT will cause you or Ms. Lah any headaches. You know we are so happy about the experience both Sam and Josh receive at Thorp. It's the overuse of standardized testing and the misuse of the test scores by CPS that we dislike. Sincerely, Sharon Schmidt."

Principal Bandolik forwarded my email to two people, Anna M. Alvarado, Deputy Chief of Schools, and MahRukh Mian, Family and Community Engagement manager, both of the "O'Hare Elementary Network" -- to which Thorp belongs.

Ms. Alvarado forwarded this to Sophia Kamberos, whose title is "manager of summer and intercession." Ms. Kamberos's email response follows:

"Hi Anna and Kathleen, The ISAT is NOT an optional test and all students are required to take it who are enrolled at CPS by state mandate. The only exception is for severely learning disabled students who have IEPs stating that those students shouldn't take the ISAT. But even those students are required by law to take the IAA, which is a the state assessment given to our students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities. Let me know if you have further questions. Thanks, Sophia."

After reading the correspondence, I emailed Ms. Alvardo and Ms. Kamberos and asked for a copy of the "state mandate."

Ms. Alvarado responded with the ISBE link she obtained from another CPS bureaucrat, Mark Armendariz, and noted the pertinent sections:Section 1.3, point 4, and Section 1.50

http://www.isbe.net/rules/archive/pdfs/oneark.pdf See information at the bottom of this article from those sections of Illinois Administrative Code.

Shortly after these emails were sent I received a phone call from Tony Howard, CPS director of policies and procedures. Ms. Kamberos had forwarded my email to him.

Mr. Howard confirmed some things I had assumed. Because CPS does not require an ISAT score for promotion in the 5th (and 4th and 7th grades), there is nothing CPS can do if we keep Sam out of school during the ISAT testing. He will receive no score on the ISAT. In addition, Mr. Howard confirmed that there will be no consequence to any special classroom placement for Sam due to not taking the tests. (He has been in a the O. A. Thorp gifted program since kindergarten.)

The school will mark Sam tardy, or a half-day absent, or a full day absent, depending on the time he misses from school. According to the ISBE Administrative Code, schools need a 95 percent compliance rate on state tests (see information at the bottom of this article). When I spoke with Sam's teacher Carrie Lah on March 1, I told her I hoped our decision would not cause her any problems. Because we've had several conversations, she knows why we keep Sam out of standardized testing.

The first page of the March 25, 2010, Chief Education Officer letter to the Schmidts. On page two, Barbara Eason-Watkins discusses excluding children from testing. For the past two years (since February 2010) George and I have opted Sam out of dozens of CPS standardized tests, per CPS policy. Sam has remained in school (reading a book of his choice in the office, hallway, or classroom) while his class took tests.

Sam has skipped the tri-yearly CPS Learning First Reading and Math Benchmark Assessments, the tri-yearly reading and math (and science in 4th grade) Scantron Performance Series tests, and the quarterly pilot Common Core reading and math assessments. In addition, in the 4th grade, we opted him out of a University of Chicago science curriculum research project that included several pre-, during-, and post-study assessments.

After I went to the Board of Education in March 2011 to request that CPS make its opt out policy clearer for parents "such as putting it on its assessment website," I received a letter from CPS law department administrator Phillip Rocks saying CPS was looking into the issue.

In her final paragraph, Eason Watkins notes that when parents choose to exclude their children from testing the children will be asked to "engage in a silent, self-guided activity." Most children who sit out the excessive CPS tests read books of their choice.In the meantime, parent choice to opt out of excessive, experimental CPS tests is and has been a policy for several years. The Chief Education Officer of the Chicago public schools (at that time, Barbara Eason-Watkins) explained the policy in a 2010 letter addressed to me and George Schmidt after I had requested the information at the February 2010 Board of Education meeting. In her second to last paragraph on page two, Ms. Eason-Watkins acknowledges parents' choice to exclude their children from standardized tests (referring to them as "assessment series" and explains the procedure for children remaining in school during testing.

Eason Watkins wrote:

"Parents are not required to sign releases for their children to participate in any assessment series. If parents choose to exclude their children, the school has no obligation to provide an alternate activity. Children will be asked to engage in a silent, self-guided."

Ms. Eason Watkins letter is available on-line in jpeg images at the following links:

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B2u8vqSnC2C7a2FNLUxHRExSeS1NZ2VNQjUyRjNpUQ

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B2u8vqSnC2C7aHg1VFgzXzdSOVdBdVM0UUJOV19XQQ

Other parents have used this letter to help communicate with principals their rights to opt out their children.

Rearranging our schedule to keep Sam home from the ISAT is more difficult for us and disruptive for him than it would be if he could just opt out at school and read during the test as usual. The Chicago Teachers Union testing committee (this reporter is the chair person) and the CTU parent and community partners will be working toward getting parent opt out legislation in Illinois.

Testing limitation legislation and testing transparency legislation are also goals.

For reasons why we refuse to have our son tested, see the article "Some family reasons for skipping the ISAT" on the March Substancenews.net homepage: http://substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3126ion=Article

ISBE ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE Section 1.30 State Assessment

The State Superintendent of Education shall develop and administer assessment instruments and other procedures in accordance with Section 2-3.64 of the School Code [105 ILCS 5/2-3.64]. In addition, school districts shall collaborate with the State Superintendent in the design and implementation of special studies.

a) Development and Participation

1) Assessment instruments and procedures shall meet generally accepted standards of validity and reliability as stated in "Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing" (1999), published by the American Educational Research Association, 1230 17th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. (No later amendments to or editions of these standards are incorporated.)

2) Districts shall participate in special studies, tryouts, and/or pilot testing of these assessment procedures and instruments when one or more schools in the district are selected to do so by the State Superintendent.

3) A school shall generally be selected for participation in these special studies, tryouts, and/or pilot testing no more than once every four years, except that participation may be required twice every four years in the case of the Illinois Alternate Assessment.

4) All pupils enrolled in a public or State-operated elementary school, secondary school, or cooperative or joint agreement with a governing body or board of control, a charter school operating in compliance with the Charter Schools Law [105 ILCS 5/Art. 27A], a school operated by a regional office of education under Section 13A-3 of the School Code [105 ILCS 5/13A-3], or a public school administered by a local public agency or the Department of Human Services shall be required to participate in the State assessment, whether by taking the regular assessment, with or without accommodations, or by participating in an alternate form of the assessment (Sections 2-3.25a and 2-3.64 of the School Code).

Section 1.50 Calculation of Participation Rate

a) A district's or a school’s adequate yearly progress for a particular year is generally contingent upon participation in the State assessment by at least 95 percent of the district’s or the school’s students, both in the aggregate and within each subgroup represented. However, a district or a school that has not achieved 95 percent participation in a given year shall be considered to have had a participation rate sufficient for adequate yearly progress if, for each affected subgroup or the entity as a whole, as applicable:

1) the average of the participation rate for the year in question and the participation rate for the immediately preceding year is at least 95%; or

2) the average of the participation rate for the year in question and the participation rates for the two immediately preceding years is at least 95%



Comments:

March 4, 2012 at 8:37 PM

By: Susan Ohanian

In order to skip the ISAT, parents need to keep children at home during testing

Kudos, Sharon, for taking the lead on this — both as a parent and as the head of the Chicago Teachers Union testing committee. The attempt at intimidation is telling and I hope other parents will follow your lead in standing up to it.

In Colorado, parent Nina Bishop has launched a campaign to help parents seize their rights to make such decision. I hope Substance readers will read the press release about her campaign and join the fight. http://susanohanian.org/show_yahoo.php?id=728

March 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM

By: Sandra Brevard

Opt Out

Thank you for bringing parent rights, and parent opposition to excessive testing out of the shadows.

March 7, 2012 at 11:31 AM

By: Brent Pope

Opt Out - Oak Park

We are going through this same drill w/ Oak Park schools this week - we were told that out daughter must stay home for the full two weeks if she wants to avoice testing. If she shows up, they will test her. I did receive the following exchange from some fellow in the ISBE:

"I am sorry to tell you this, but the school staff has a responsibility to present the test to your child if she is present during the two-week window. The student does not have to mark anything on the booklet, but they have a responsibility to present the test.

Can you provide me the name of the administrator you have been working with at the school – let me see if I can work out a compromise.

Jim Palmer"

No compromised was worked out and today received this from ISBE:

"I will try and address your questions further, as our legal counsel is not authorized to provide advice to parents. You have basically asked if it is the State’s intention that a student miss school during the testing window (2 weeks) for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), when a parent does not want their student to take the ISAT.

First, please note that parents may not opt their children out of the ISAT. Section 2-3.64 of the Illinois School Code discusses the state goals and assessments and requires the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) to test all students:

Beginning no later than the 2005-2006 school year, the State Board of Education shall annually test: (i) all pupils enrolled in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in reading and mathematics and (ii) all pupils enrolled in the 4th and 7th grades in the biological and physical sciences ... 105 ILCS 5/2-3.64.

Therefore, the State is required to test all students in the enrolled grades with limited exceptions for first year in the United States, English language learners. Parents may not legally opt their children out of the ISAT.

With respect to the question of whether it is ISBE’s intention that parents keep their students home from school if they do not want their students to take standardized assessment tests. The answer to this is; absolutely not. Under the School Code, parents and guardians are required to have their students in attendance during the regular school term:

Whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 7 and 17 years (unless the child has already graduated from high school) shall cause such child to attend some public school in the district wherein the child resides the entire time it is in session during the regular school term … 105 ILCS 5/26-1.

A child is truant if they are absent from school without a valid cause, as defined by statute; e.g. “illness, observance of a religious holiday, death in the immediate family, family emergency, and shall include such other situations beyond the control of the student as determined by the board of education in each district, or such other circumstances which cause reasonable concern to the parent for the safety or health of the student.” 105 ILCS 5/26-2a. Keeping a student out of school in order to avoid having them take a standardized test would not, of itself, constitute a valid cause.

I hope this has answered your questions and you have found it helpful.

Jim Palmer

Principal Consultant

Division of Student Assessment

Illinois State Board of Education

Email: jpalmer@isbe.net

Phone: (866) 317-6034

Web: http://www.isbe.net/assessment"

March 7, 2012 at 2:37 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

'Opt out' success in Oak Park and Chicago

Hi Brent,

Please email me at smgschmidt1@aol.com or call Substance 773-725-7502.

As you can see from this statement by Oak Park Dist. 97 parents Jim and Sue Gill, who were threatened with the same thing, the district can choose to make a better policy. Their children stayed home during test administration, returned for the rest of the day and weren't given make-up tests. During the 2006 the family was forced to keep the children home for the entire two weeks, but in the next years they returned to just 1/2 day absences. http://pureparents.org/data/files/Gillstatement.pdf

As of today, our son is in school after the ISAT test was administered to his class (he stayed home for an hour and a half), and he is not being given a make-up test.

We'll see what the word is later today.

Sharon Schmidt

March 7, 2012 at 3:19 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Eugenics, discredited 20th Century 'science,' and the ISAT monstrosities

"I felt like the scene in 'Finding Nemo', where all the seagulls were looking at me going 'Gueark! Guearrkk!" Then, little by little, they all said "You're so lucky..." That's Sam's description of the first day of ISAT, where he returned to class at just before ten a.m. following his first day off from that odious Egenics residue of the most benighted "Race To The Top" years of the previous century...

Every school district in Illinois that wants to bash parents' rights uses the same ploy that Oak Park is using: "We have to give the test..." That may be true (until we change the law). But it does not follow, except in that odious world of Social Darwinian unnatural selection worshipped presently from the U.S. Department of Education to most Illinois districts and ISBE, that families can be forced to continue in this unnatural experiment using millions of human children.

And anyone who tells us otherwise will have to provide more and better explanations that the nonsense quoted above.

March 9, 2012 at 11:31 AM

By: Brent Pope

Update Opt Out - Oak Park

Received the below response yesterday from ISBE in response to my questions regarding missing school activities. To their credit they did respond, but continue to point to the state board policy/code - which is why we should work to change it to allow for parental choice and involvement as several other states have done.

-------------------------------

"I hate to pass the buck, but this question is really beyond the attorney and me. We have to carry out policy as established by the state school board.

Regards,

Jim Palmer

From: Brent

Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 9:59 AM

To: PALMER JAMES

Subject: Re: Information From Attorney

Thanks, but my questions were more precise:

"1. If a parent is willing to accept an unexcused absence for a child (as we are) for the 1/2 day that the test is being administered, but is willing to bring the child back to school for the remaining 1/2 day of school (when no test is being administered)..... is it the state's intention that the child should not be allowed into school for that remaining 1/2 day?

2. and, is it the state's intention that the child should not be allowed back into school during ‘make-up’ week ....when tests are administered to those children who were ill during regularly scheduled testing times?"

March 17, 2012 at 8:30 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

ISAT update

Sam's experience skipping the ISAT the first two weeks of March was painless for all. He stayed home for a few hours on the four days that testing was scheduled for his class. He returned to school and to his classroom when his class was finished testing. He was in school during make-up testing, but was not given the tests.

In addition, from the message I received from Brent, after the Oak Park posturing about make-up testing, Brent's daughter also skipped testing and attended school during make-up testing without being given the tests.

For parents who wish to save their children from pressure, test score rankings, and loss of more valuable education experiences, skipping the ISAT is possible. But we do need opt-out legislation so parents won't have to keep the children away from school during test times.

March 19, 2012 at 11:38 AM

By: Julie Woestehoff

We need a federal opt out right in ESEA

Sharon and Brent, it's great that you are challenging the testing provisions in Illinois. Since the tests in question are basically created to comply with ESEA (thought states are allowed to create an assessment system without standardized tests) we need to tell our Congresspeople to include a parental opt-out right in the reauthorization of ESEA. PURE and Parents Across America have been pushing for such a provision which would make the states' flip-flopping a non-issue: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ESEApositionFINAL4-20-11.pdf.

September 15, 2012 at 12:59 AM

By: Bridget Duggan

Skipping school on test days

I've got 3 kids in CPS schools - one at the neighborhood school, the others at a Magnet. So, what can they do, if anything, if my kids just aren't there on testing days, or intensive test review days, or any day for that matter? If my child is performing at acceptable or above grade level, but has more than 7 unexcused absences, & skips the imposed summer school, do they actually hold them back. I especially wonder what the consequence would be from the Magnet school - once accepted & enrolled, are they under any more obligation to keep us on the roster than the neighborhood school would be? Note I have asked similar questions of [some] CPS employees, as it they relate to homeschooling &/or partial homeschooling, and they were unable to give me an answer. Given that IL has no law requiring that children attend school, or even decline registration or sign off on attending school at all, I don\'t know how it would work if parent voluntarily bring their kids to school on the days they wish. \r\rSorry, off on a tangent a bit, but kinda related.\r\rThanks (Hi Sharon! :v) )\r\r773)609.BRIJ

September 15, 2012 at 1:53 AM

By: Bridget Duggan

skipping school on test days

I\'ve got 3 kids in CPS schools - one at the neighborhood school, the others at a Magnet. So, what can they do, if anything, if my kids just aren\'t there on testing days, or intensive test review days, or any day for that matter? If my child is performing at acceptable or above grade level, but has more than 7 unexcused absences, & skips the imposed summer school, do they actually hold them back. I especially wonder what the consequence would be from the Magnet school - once accepted & enrolled, are they under any more obligation to keep us on the roster than the neighborhood school would be? \r\rNote I have asked similar questions of [some] CPS employees, as it they relate to homeschooling &/or partial homeschooling, and they were unable to give me an answer. Given that IL has no law requiring that children attend school, or even decline registration or sign off on attending school at all, I don\'t know how it would work if parent voluntarily bring their kids to school on the days they wish. \r\rSorry, off on a tangent a bit, but kinda related.\r\rThanks (Hi Sharon! :v) )\r\r773)609.BRIJ

July 23, 2013 at 6:18 PM

By: Steven Craig

ISAT 'failure' caused by huge class size?

My son is a third grader in an Englewood school and there are 34 students in his classroom. He didn't do well on the 2013 ISAT, and therefore he has to attend summer school. He did very well and made good grades on his report card with 99% attendance. If he doesn't pass the ISAT in summer school what can I do as a parent to fight for my child to move on to the fourth grade? He worked hard and was very proud of himself, but now he is devastated. He is a smart kid and there are too many students in his classroom. I feel he didn't get the help he needed because there were too many children in his classroom. The children in Englewood are hurting, they can't sleep, there's killing, single parents, and it's sad so many 3rd graders failed some for the second time. The teachers are overwhelmed. What can I do to fight for my child.

July 25, 2013 at 8:00 AM

By: Sharon Schmidt

ISAT failure

Hi Stephen,

Please get in touch with "More Than a Score Chicago" and the Chicago Testing Resistance email list serve. I know others have been in your situation and may be able to offer advice.

http://morethanascorechicago.org/

Chicagotestingresistance@lists.pureparents.org

July 25, 2013 at 3:53 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

What to do if CPS threatens to flunk your child after summer school

A Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) tip sheet on what do to in this situation:

http://pureparents.org/?p=20769

What to do if CPS threatens to flunk your child after summer school

How to help your child move up

to the next grade after summer school

If CPS sent your child to summer school this year, how can you be sure he or she will be promoted to the next grade in the fall? Here’s what must happen for your child to move up, according to the CPS promotion policy:

All summer school students must have a passing grade in reading and math on the summer school report card, and no more than 3 unexcused absences.

Summer student students who scored below the 25th percentile on the reading or math state test in the spring must also retake the state test in the area or areas where their spring scores were below the 25th percentile. To be promoted, they must score at the 25th percentile or above this time.

There are other requirements for special education students, English language learners, and eighth grade students who did not meet the CPS cut score in writing. For the details, see the CPS promotion policy http://policy.cps.k12.il.us/download.aspx?ID=45

as amended by this resolution in May 2012: http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/The_Board_of_Education/Documents/BoardActions/2012_05/12-0523-RS1.pdf

Parents’ right to appeal

If CPS decides to retain your child – hold him or her back — you have a right to appeal that decision.

You will only have FIVE days to file your appeal after you are notified of the decision, so you need to be prepared.

You must make your appeal in writing to the CPS Chief Education Officer, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th floor, Chicago IL 60603 fax: 773-553-1501. Ask for a review of your child’s academic performance based on all available evidence.

For this review, you may bring any additional information regarding your child that would justify waiving the requirements of the promotion policy.

PURE has a tip sheet for parents with ideas for building a student portfolio which you can use to present evidence of your child’s abilities, progress, and challenges: http://pureparents.org/data/files/partsofportfolio.pdf

© Parents United for Responsible Education2012

11 E Adams Street Chicago, IL 60603 Tel. 312/491-9101 pure@pureparents.org www.pureparents.org

- See more at: http://pureparents.org/?p=20769#sthash.BxXWkGJT.dpuf

September 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM

By: Warren DeWolfe

ISAT Testingq

I am exchanging emails with my children's principal regarding all the testing and assesments. I am trying to "opt" them out, however I am being told ISAT is mandatory! Is this the case? Can I opt them out of all these things? Also need to know what reprecutions this can have on the kids grades and advancing to the next grade level? Also do they have to stay home from school during these things?

Thanks

September 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

No so-called 'standardized' test is mandatory

From the point of view of the parent, no test that is going to be used on our children is "mandatory." The reason for this is that every so-called "standardized" test is in violation of the various rules of the American Education Research Association, the American Psychological Association, or the various subject area associations. At the very least, these tests are experimenting on human subjects, and at the worst they are designed (by psychometric rules) to rank and sort human beings.

The basis of all this stuff arose more than a hundred years ago in the anti-science called "Eugenics." Eugenics searched for a way of proving that all human beings could be ranked and sorted using some kind of science. You know what the results was on the European scale. But what is often left out of many history books is that the "scientific" claims upon which Eugenics was developed came from professors at Harvard, Yale, the other Ivy League schools, and the University of Chicago (one of the things they have covered up, for obvious reasons, see the next paragraphs).

It took World War II to defeat the European iterations of American Eugenics. The chief author of the most famous book based on Eugenics thanked the Americans who had been his forebears in that "science." As Jim Horn and Denise Wilburn show in the first chapter of their book The Mismeasure of Education, the acceptance of Eugenics as "science" went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the same time of the Scopes Monkey Trial, Oliver Wendell Holmes was praising Eugenics for showing the ruling class how to eliminate the "unfit" in the case of a young lady named Carrie Buck (you can Google this without reading Horn and Wilburn) as we've reported in Substance. Carrie Buck, because she was "feeble minded," was sterilized by the State of Virginia, which did so by law.

Some commentators are saying this is the year of the "American Spring," where the resistance to the insidious reign of high-stakes testing -- what Diane Ravitch called the "Reign of Error" -- is finally brought down by a populist uprising.

For Substance, we want to know every principal and administrator who writes telling parents that we have to join this hoax another year. Meanwhile, through More than a Score, CORE, and others, we are organizing the Chicago resistance, and by January we will have major announcements of what we will all be doing.

February 26, 2014 at 7:14 PM

By: Antoinette Nolan

opting out of testing for my child

My child is in 5th grade at Onahan on the Northwest Side of Chicago.Chris has an IEP that is never followed,as a matter of fact they held my son back in 3rd grade due to the ISAT's. I have made the choice that this year I will no let him take the ISATS, its a week of anxiety for him that he does not need. He is a child with dyslexia and processing issues but is high functioning so most of the time the teachers just label him as lazy and not engaged in school.

I'm so glad that someone has given me an option to not letting him take these tests. I will email his teacher and principal tonight to let them know and will let you know how it goes. Thank you so much

March 4, 2014 at 7:53 AM

By: jim Hancock

ISAT opt out

Let\'s continue to teach your children they didn\'t have to follow any rules set forth by the school system and as they get older they can do whatever they want because the justice system will let them do whatever they want also? At some point you have to learn to follow the rules even if you don\'t like them.

March 4, 2014 at 9:20 AM

By: Kim Scipes

ISAT Opt-Out

Jim--

You miss the point. The issue is not to just challenge the muck-mucks for the sake of challenging them, but because not only is the ISAT not used for anything anymore, but the time for preparation and taking the test DETRACTS from actual learning; i.e., there is NO educational value to this tremendous loss of teaching time, and it costs CPS massive amounts of money to pay for the testing and scoring, plus for the time that teaching AREN'T teaching students, but administering this useless test.

Accordingly, opting-out keeps the kids from having to endure this unnecessary nonsense while sending a message to the CPS hierarchy that we don't accept their nonsense.

March 4, 2014 at 10:37 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Sharon's 2012 Opt Out letter

I know that "Jim Hancock" and others who are preaching this "I was just following orders..." version of reality can go on saying that forever. What I love about this particular thread is that we are talking about the Opt Out "movement" from 2012, and that Sam Schmidt has been a pioneer in this stuff. Children and young adults have to learn to "follow orders" at most time. They also have to learn to resist illegitimate authority when they are ordered to do stupid, meaningless, or illegal things. ALL of today's so-called "standardized" tests are based on the principle of ranking and sorting human beings from "top" to "bottom." This dismal philosophy was the madness of the 1920s and 1930s, until Nazi Germany, which praised the American Eugenicists, took it to its logical conclusion. They began by eliminating the "bottom" --- first the "feeble minded" and the Gypsies. After they had perfected their Race To The Top version of reality on those two categories of human beings, they moved forward to their ultimate crimes -- the largest of which was the Holocaust. But let's never forget that the people who designed those Race To The Top (and eliminate the "bottom") philosophies were basing their ideas on ideas that were widespread among some of the "best and the brightest" here in the United States. The Carrie Buck decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was written by one of America's most brightest guys -- Oliver Wendell Holmes. I still recommend that anyone meditating on this "Just following orders...' version of reality (and preaching these "Jim Hancock" preachments) watch the movie Judgement at Nuremberg, especially the point where the Nazis' defense lawyer quotes American ideas as the foundations for what was done. And they were. Mein Kampf praised the ideas of American eugenicists, and always noted that his plan to eliminate the "untermenschen" from the "East" (to give Lebensraum to the "Volk") was based on what the United States had done to the Indians. It wasn't all the Germans who followed that odious philosophy by around 1941 -- just the majority. Whether that Race To The Top demanded (early on) the elimination of the "feeble minded" or, later, starving millions of Russian POWs to death (and enslaving Poles and hundreds of thousands of others), this "just following orders" thing is not something we should teach out children. It took the US ruling class two generations to get back to its ideological roots after the defeat of Nazi Germany and the exposure of the ultimate results of these philosophies. By the time Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand began circulating their versions of this nonsense, a generation had been lulled. By the time Barack Obama and Arne Duncan pushed through with straight faces Race To The Top, the ironies were too great for many to grasp at first.

Until today. Chicago has much to be proud of this week, and we are proud that our sons were resisting these philosophical evils, and their physical embodiments, early. It's nice to know that this morning thousands of others in Chicago are joining us not only in resisting the ISAT, but in exposing the roots of all this nonsense.

August 17, 2015 at 9:08 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

'Elba' you must follow our guidelines...

Earlier today we received an email asking for help from someone who claimed to be a parent but who only signed one name -- "elba" -- when Substance requires that everyone making a comment provide our readers with their first name and last name (no pseudonyms; no trolls). So it that person is real, we are asking it to resubmit the comment providing our readers with its full name and a real email address. (There is no email domain "yahoo.xom".

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