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OPT OUT NEWS: CTU calls CPS ISAT Opt Out investigation a 'Witch Hunt' as press reports indicate that America's third largest school system continues to try and intimidate teachers, parents and children in order to reduce the largest Opt Out in testing history

Officials of the Chicago Teachers Union are responding to an onslaught of investigations and apparent intimidations of children, parents and teachers as the nation's third largest school system enters the second week following the largest boycott of a standardized testing program in the nation's history. On March 21, 2014, the Chicago Teachers Union issued a press release characterizing the investigations as a "witch hunt," but some sources are telling Substance that the union's response to the various challenges to the ISAT Opt Out movement is less than clear.

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION PRESS RELEASE ISSUED EARLY AFTERNOON ON MARCH 21, 2014:

CTU PRESS RELEASE ISSUED MARCH 21, 2014:

CPS LAUNCHES ISAT WITCH-HUNT. Teachers and parents express outrage as CPS lawyers interrogates children and educators about low-stakes testing and how they decided to opt-out

CHICAGO Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released the following statement regarding the school districts ongoing witch-hunt regarding the recent parent-led boycott of the ISAT. A number of parents at Drummond and Saucedo elementary schools chose to opt-out their children from taking the unnecessary and obsolete, eight-day test and were further supported by teachers who refused to administer the exam, who argued the time to administer the test could be better spent on educating students.

Parents have alleged that some students were asked if they were paid or directly instructed by their teachers to opt-out of the ISAT. CTU has encouraged members to invoke their Weingarten Rights and refuse to talk to CPS attorneys and district management if it believed those discussions could lead to disciplinary action. Unionized workers are entitled to representation at all disciplinary hearings.

We are morally outraged to learn that CPSs law department is going throughout the district interrogating our students and educators about how they came opting-out of the ISAT, said CTU President Karen Lewis. The ISAT is an unnecessary and obsolete standardized test that serves as nothing more than a tool for data collection for the district. It has no educational value. Instead of frightening little kids and intimidating parents who are demanding a high-quality education for their students, CPS is engaging in a witch-hunt. Once again, the city is wasting precious resources as it investigates alleged teacher misconduct. They are grasping for straws.

The recent interrogation of students at Drummond and Saucedo is about compliance and intimidating people, Lewis said. As educators we are responsible for protecting the educational interests of our students. When we refuse to administer these unnecessary standardized tests, it shows the district we are capable of bringing their data machine to its knees. CPS is creating a hostile atmosphere in these schools by having students believe their teachers can be fired for standing up for them. They are simply grasping for straws. There is no there there.

CHICAGO SUN TIMES REPORTING SAUCEDO INVESTIGATION LATE ON MARCH 21....

CPS lawyers questioning Saucedo staff about students who skipped ISAT. BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter March 21, 2014 3:46PM

Chicago Public School lawyers were interrogating staff and teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy on the Southwest Side Friday in what the Chicago Teachers Union is calling an ISAT witch hunt.

CPS spokesman Joel Hood confirmed CPS law department staffers are investigating the school at 2850 W. 24th Blvd.

Theyre not talking to students, only talking to teachers and in some cases, school staff, Hood said of the on-site visit.

This is the same kind of investigation we would do no matter what claim would come to our department. We have to have conversation with people, but specifically today, were talking with teachers and staff about allegations and misconduct with the ISAT.

Several parents at both Drummond and Saucedo chose to opt-out their children from taking the eight-day test and some were supported by teachers who refused to administer the test.

On Thursday, parents of Drummond students expressed anger alleging that CPS investigators yanked their children out of classrooms to interview them about the ISAT boycott without parental permission.

CPS officials confirmed that lawyers spoke with Drummond students but only those who opted to talk with them.

Although CPS officials said no students had been questioned on Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union said in a statement that parents have alleged their children were asked if they were paid or directly instructed by their teachers to opt out of taking the test.

CTU has encouraged its members to invoke their Weingarten Rights and refuse to talk to CPS attorneys and district management.

CTU President Karen Lewis said the interrogation of students at both schools is about intimidation. She said CPS is creating a hostile atmosphere by having students believe their teachers can be fired for standing up for them.

We are morally outraged to learn that CPSs law department is going throughout the district interrogating our students and educators about how they came opting-out of the ISAT, Lewis said in a statement.

The ISAT is an unnecessary and obsolete standardized test that serves as nothing more than a tool for data collection for the district. It has no educational value. Instead of frightening little kids and intimidating parents who are demanding a high-quality education for their students, CPS is engaging in a witch-hunt. Once again, the city is wasting precious resources as it investigates alleged teacher misconduct.

Email: tsfondeles@suntimes.com

Twitter: @TinaSfon



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