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OPT OUT NEWS: Leading educators back Chicago Opt Out movement

As the Chicago Opt Out movement continues to explode across the city and resonate across the USA, a group of leading educators has issued a national statement in support of the Chicago resisters. In a petition signed by fifty leading educators, the statement says: "Teachers at two public elementary schools in Chicago, Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary School, have refused to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). By taking this bold action at great personal risk, these teachers are standing up for authentic teaching, learning, and assessment. We believe that these teachers are heroes who are worthy of praise and thanks, not punishment and censure."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the continued use of the ISAT test in Chicago's public schools despite the fact that the ISAT is being phased out this year and the two week testing window, from March 3 through March 14, disrupts learning for almost all Chicago publlc school children. Rahm's appointed school board and appointed Chief Executive Officer have threatened teachers who have boycotted the ISAT, while local school officials have been bullying families opting out their children. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.LEADING EDUCATORS SUPPORT TEST BOYCOTT

Press Release. Date: March 9, 2014

Contact: Jesse Hagopian, Teacher, 206-962-1685 hagopian.jesse@gmail.com

Brian Jones, Teacher and Doctoral Student, 646-554-8592 brianpjones@yahoo.com

Wayne Au, Professor of Education, 425-352-3797 wayne.wk.au@gmail.com

In a public petition released today, more than fifty educators and researchers, including some of the most well-respected figures in the field of education, pledged support for the boycott of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) by teachers at two elementary schools in Chicago, Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary School and called on Chicagos mayor and schools chief to rescind threats of punishment for those who participated in the action.

Among the signers of the statement are former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and activist and educator William Ayers. They compared the teachers decision to civil rights activism. Like early participants in the Civil Rights Movement, they wrote, the teachers at Saucedo and Drummond who have refused to administer the ISAT have taken an enormous risk for what they believe is right.

Jesse Hagopian, a high school teacher in Seattle and one of the organizers of a boycott of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test last year, took the lead in gathering signatures to support the Chicago boycott. I know from experience how frightening it can be to take this kind of action, Hagopian said, no one would jeopardize their livelihood unless they believed deeply in what they were doing. Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher at Saucedo, told Hagopian that parents, students and teachers were standing together on this issue in order to take back our public schools from the profiteers who are making millions from these tests and test-prep materials. Chambers added, This is one step towards reclaiming our public schools and our humanity.

The ISAT test is not used for student promotion or teacher evaluation. Its only purpose is to satisfy the states accountability requirements for the No Child Left Behind legislation. The signers also noted that hundreds of families at both schools chose to opt their children out of the tests 112 students at Drummond and roughly 450 at Saucedo. Teachers who refused to administer the test conducted lessons with the students who opted out.

Despite the fact that the test is already slated to be discontinued next year, state and city officials have stated that these teachers may lose their jobs and perhaps their teaching licenses.

Threatening to punish teachers who prefer to teach rather than give standardized tests is not in the best interest of students, the statement argues. Noting the growing discontent with the over-use of standardized testing, the signatories called the test refusers teachers of conscience who are standing up for authentic teaching, learning, and assessment. The petition is released in advance of the Chicago Teachers Unions call for a Day of Action on Monday, March 10 to support the boycotting teachers. The CTU is encouraging members and supporters to wear red, call the Chicago Board of Education directly, and attend a rally that day in Chicago at 4pm.

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PETITION TO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL & CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS CEO BARBARA BYRD-BENNETT: CELEBRATE CHICAGOS TEACHERS OF CONSCIENCE, DONT PUNISH THEM!

Teachers at two public elementary schools in Chicago, Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary School, have refused to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). By taking this bold action at great personal risk, these teachers are standing up for authentic teaching, learning, and assessment. We believe that these teachers are heroes who are worthy of praise and thanks, not punishment and censure.

The teachers at these schools believe that boycotting this test is in the best interest of their students. Hundreds of parents and students agreed. At Drummond, 112 students out of 178 students refused to take the test. At Saucedo, roughly 450 of 1200 students refused also. For teachers who declined to administer the test, this was not a day off -- they were able to conduct actual lessons with students who opted out. Threatening to punish teachers who prefer to teach rather than give standardized tests is not in the best interest of students.

The ISAT test is being phased out, and will not be given next year. The results from this test will not be used to improve teaching and learning, to determine grades or promotion in Chicago Public Schools. Its only purpose is to satisfy the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. NCLB demands that schools raise test scores every year, pressure from which has led to an abusive over-emphasis on standardized test preparation nationwide.

Like early participants in the Civil Rights Movement, the teachers at Saucedo and Drummond who have refused to administer the ISAT have taken an enormous risk for what they believe is right. And like those early Civil Rights protesters, they are facing intimidation and threats that they may be fired or lose their teaching licenses.

We, the undersigned, call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to stop all threats and punishments directed at the teachers of conscience at Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Drummond Elementary. Signed*:

Curtis Acosta, Founder, Acosta Latino Learning Partnership, Tucson

Wayne Au, Associate Professor of Education, University of Washington, Bothell

William Ayers, Retired, University of Illinois

Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor, Rethinking Schools

Stephen Brier, Professor, Ph.D. Program in Urban Education, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Phyllis A. Bush, Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, Fort Wayne

Alex Caputo-Pearl Teacher, Frida Kahlo High School, Los Angeles

Julie Cavanagh, Teacher, Public School 15, Brooklyn

Sumi Cho, Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law

Linda Christensen, Rethinking Schools

Anthony Cody, Co-Founder, Network for Public Education

Tammy Oberg De La Garza, Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy, College of Education, Roosevelt University, Chicago

Bertis Downs, Board Member, Network for Public Education

John W. Duffy, Retired, Illinois Education Association

Lisa Edstrom, Barnard Education Program, Barnard College, Columbia University

Stephanie Farmer, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Roosevelt University, Chicago

Judith Gouwens, Professor of Elementary Education, College of Education, Roosevelt University, Chicago

Helen Gym, Asian Americans United/Parents United for Public Education, Rethinking Schools

Jesse Hagopian, Teacher, Garfield High School, Seattle

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters

Nini Hayes, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Julian Vasquez Heilig, Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning, University of Texas, Austin

Robin Hiller

Executive Director

Network for Public Education

Brian Jones

PhD Program in Urban Education

The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Denisha Jones

Assistant Professor of Education

Howard University Stan Karp

Rethinking Schools

Bill Kennedy

Urban Teacher Education Program

University of Chicago Karen GJ Lewis

National Board Certified Teacher

President

Chicago Teachers Union

Barbara Madeloni

Educators for a Democratic Union

Eleni Makris

Associate Professor

Northeastern Illinois University

Morna McDermott

Associate Professor

Towson University

Deborah Menkart

Executive Director

Teaching for Change

Nicholas M. Michelli

Presidential Professor

Ph.D. Program in Urban Education

The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Mark B. Miller

School Board Director

Centennial School District

Pennsylvania School Boards Association

Isabel Nuñez

Associate Professor

Concordia University Chicago

Dani O'Brien

College of Education

University of Massachusetts, Amherst Bob Peterson

President

Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association

Anthony Picciano

Executive Officer

PhD Program in Urban Education

City University of New York - Graduate Center

Bree Picower

New York Collective of Radical Educators

Amira Proweller

Associate Professor

DePaul University, College of Education

Diane Ravitch

Research Professor of Education

New York University

Mary Cathryn D. Ricker

National Board Certified Teacher

President

Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, Local 28

Karyn Sandlos

Assistant Professor of Art Education

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Mara Sapon-Shevin

Professor of Inclusive Education

Syracuse University Nancy Schniedewind

Professor

State University of New York, New Paltz

Tim Slekar

Dean

School of Education

Edgewood College, Madison

Simeon Stumme

Associate Professor

Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice

Concordia University, Chicago

Daiyu Suzuki

Doctoral Student

Teachers College, Columbia University

Peter M. Taubman

Professor Brooklyn College

Dora Taylor

President

Parents Across America

Angela Valenzuela

Professor

University of Texas, Austin

Lois Weiner

Professor

New Jersey City University

Randi Weingarten

President

American Federation of Teachers

Barbara Winslow

School of Education

Brooklyn College

*organizations are listed for identification purposes only



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