Chicago Teachers Union challenges CPS 'security' form as PARCC testing program begins against the opposition of hundreds of teachers and thousands of students and families

In the wake of the last minute decision by Chicago Public Schools officials to administer the PARCC test in all of the city's elementary schools, the Chicago Teachers Union has taken the dramatic step of opposing the administration's demand that teacher sign a "security agreement" about the administration of the controversial tests. The last minute decision by CPS "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett came after CPS had spent a month saying that it was only going to administer PARCC to ten percent of the city's schools.

Speaking at the February 25, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education (above), Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey told the Board members and administrators that the union did not support the administration of the controversial PARCC tests to the city's elementary school children. The union officer's family has opted out his own two sons from the city's ever expanding testing and test prep programs where the two Sharkey sons attend public school, at Pritzker Elementary School. Substance photo by David Vance.On March 3, 2015, the union issued the following statement:

Chicago Teachers Union leadership submitted the following letter to the Chicago Board of Education regarding the PARCC 2015 Test Security Agreement and Schedule, issued to our members:

The Chicago Teachers Union objects to the Board’s demand that CPS staff sign the PARCC 2015 Test Security Agreement and Schedule, which by signing all staff are “indicating [they] have read and will abide by” various unworkable criteria for administering the 2015 PARCC test.

• Test Coordinators must “establish and carry out a PARCC security plan.” (Who is to say whether the plan that coordinators must unilaterally establish will satisfy CPS?)

• Test Coordinators, Test Administrators and Proctors must “ensure” that no students will cheat. (How can staff guarantee that students will not engage in such behavior?)

• Technology Coordinators must “mitigate all technology related issues in a timely manner.” (How can the coordinators guarantee, without knowing what technology issues will arise, that all technology-related issues will be remedied in a particular time frame?)

CPS may certainly notify staff of its policies regarding this or any other matter. But the demand that staff guarantee compliance with vaguely worded obligations is both unworkable and unfair. The Union demands bargaining over this issue—which by the implicit threat of discipline constitutes a mandatory subject of bargaining—and it demands that no staff be required to sign the form until all bargaining obligations are satisfied. It further reserves its right to grieve any adverse action taken against any staff in connection with the form or administration of the PARCC test.

The Chicago Teachers Union is recommending to its members that, if they elect to sign the unfair and unworkable document, they indicate “receipt only” with their signatures.


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