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OPT OUT NEWS: CPS officials continue lying, saying 'no distribution to students...'... Administrators at Chicago's Murphy Elementary School try to stop leaflet distribution... Chicago movement grows... New York Opt Out nears 200,000 count...

The Chicago Opt Out movement continues building, with literature distributed by activists. We had another very good experience taking the opt-out message to another school. On Friday, April 24, 2015, Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice had a 4-person team go out to the Murphy Elementary School at dismissal time. Many parents were very interested in learning about the issue.

Chicago's Murphy Elementary School.Others already knew about the issue and had opted their children out of the Common Core PARCC tests in March, one estimating that about 10 students had opted out. One parent reported that there had been lively discussion in the Local School Council on the issue of the PARCC tests.

We also talked to a few teachers, most of whom opposed the tests and thanked us for distributing leaflets. One teacher tried to convince us that the tests are good for students. But she was willing to have a good exchange with one of the team members.

Students were very excited to learn they could opt of the PARCC tests. We told them that they had the right to refuse to take a harmful test, and that no one had the right to punish them for it. Many came over to get our leaflets after they saw their friends had them. They then gathered in groups of ten or more to have discussion about the issues. They got especially enthused when we told them about the thousands of students across the country who are refusing to take the PARCC and other Common Core tests.

Students told us that they thought the PARCC tests that they took in March were a waste of time, and that they did not think they were fair or even clear.

This principal -- like other authorities we have been meeting was very upset. She said we were preventing students from heading home -- about 50 were still hanging around when she came out. She and the assistant principal said we should not be handing out leaflets to students, only to parents. Though they were frantic and the principal even took a flyer out of a student's hands, they did not threaten to call the police the way the administration of North River Elementary did on Thursday. All of these administrators seem amazed that we would go right ahead--- after they told us--in effect-- to stop exercising the right of free speech, assembly and the press. We are enjoying these opt-out experiences--feeling that whether or not we get more students to refuse to take the PARCC tests, we are getting some students and parents to think about the idea that they have rights and can exercise them despite what "authorities" tell them.

We are planning to distribute at two other schools at dismissal time on Monday and Tuesday. If you would like to join with us, please let us know. It is very useful work. --Neal

With most of the schools in New York state counted, informed sources says that 190,836 Students have Opt-Outed of New Yorks Common Core ELA Assessment. Chicago's Opt Out leaders do not have as precise figures as of now.

From Truth in American Education: "190,836 Students Opt-Out of New Yorks ELA Assessment

"A New York-based Opt-Out advocacy group called United to Counter the Core reports that 190,836 students as of the time of this writing opted out of last weeks Common Core-aligned state ELA assessment with just under 76% of school districts accounted for. This is an major increase from last year with 49,000 students opting out. The math assessment which starts today with reports from a little more than 19% of school districts counted so far has seen 62,173 students opt-out...."



Comments:

April 27, 2015 at 4:52 PM

By: Roberta Salas

Murphy School treats all students with care

I think you are mistaking your right to free speech with the Murphy administrations responsibility to protect their minor students safety. The administration at Murphy does not condone strangers engaging students directly without parental permission. I think you are assuming that their concern was about the message when it was rightly about protecting them from people whom they did not know. This goes beyond politics. As a Murphy parent, I appreciate that they are looking out for the safety of my kids and I absolutely give them full permission to prevent strangers from talking or giving anything to my kids without my knowledge.

I also appreciate the tenderness and care that the administration and staff have shown to children who are opting out of the tests, mine included. We have worked hard in the Murphy community to balance the messaging of opt out while respecting the families that disagree and in conjunction with the people who are required to administer the test. I wish this organization would have done a little more research on our school or, at a minimum, attended just one LSC meeting where we have discussed standardized testing at length for over a year. We have had Murphy parents distribute opt out materials and have had opt out information available outside the main office. Opting out of these poorly prepared and burdensome standardized tests is to ultimately protect our children. We also need to make sure they are protected from strangers that are not known to the people to whom we entrust our children.

April 28, 2015 at 6:47 PM

By: Betty Resnikoff

Common Core-Deciding how to deal with PARCC

DECIDING HOW TO DEAL WITH THE COMMON CORES PARCC TESTS

I am a member of the Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace & Justice, and I have been going out in a team to talk to people at schools in our area----K-8 and high schools. So I would like to explain why I think what were doing is worthwhile. We have kept other groups such as Raise Your Hand informed about which schools we are going to, so we can coordinate. And we post what occurs at the chi opt out list.

An important issue being raised has to do with the role of students in the opt-out movement. Should students just be passive victims who have to endure toxic Common Core exams? Those of us who are actively fighting against the corporate campaign to destroy public education and take it over with charter schools, etc. have a responsibility to address this issue.

It would be a very good thing for public forums to be organized at every school--perhaps by Local School Councils. Meetings of students, parents, teachers, principals, and community people all together would be a very good way to foster broad discussion, not only about opting out, but also about the larger question of how to fight for the kind of public education our society needs. It is the right of everyone to participate in this ongoing nationwide discussion of how to save and improve public education--which includes the issue of how best to assess student progress.

At this time when we havent yet had such meetings all across the city, the flyering and discussions by community people at schools are important in involving as many people as possible in thinking about what to do. This is why we have flyers both in English and in Spanish.

At K-8 schools, for example, we can speak to the parents who are picking up or dropping off their younger children. Most of the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students come and leave school on their own, so we dont usually have a chance to speak to their parents. But we do have the opportunity to speak to these older students about their experiences and what they can do to resist the abuse of the PARCC tests. After all, they are the ones who have to decide whether or not to say they refuse the tests at the time when tests are being administered.

The younger children are in a particularly vulnerable situation because administrators are directed by the Chicago and Illinois Boards of Education not to accept the decisions of parents to opt their children out of the tests. Its a big responsibility to put on younger children to speak up for themselves.

At each school, the principal has to judge the Common Core curriculum and the PARCC tests which go with it, as well as the impact on students. Then she can decide what role to play. If a principal orders us to leave the public sidewalks in front of her school, what lesson about freedom of speech is she giving the students? If she decides to take a flyer out of a students hands or tells the children, You dont need that, what do the children learn? Its a very positive thing that some principals have decided to oppose Common Core and the PARCC tests.

Regarding the impact on students, we have found that the older children have a lot to say about their experiences with the PARCC tests they took in March and are now being subjected to again. Many tell us that they hate taking these tests which most of them consider unfair, confusing, not related to what theyre learning in their classrooms, and a waste of the time they would rather spend in learning activity with their teachers. Some said they are very worried and upset after taking the tests because they had to guess, and think they failed. Many have thanked us for coming, and have asked for extra copies to give to their friends and parents.

The older students are generally very eager and able to talk about their right to refuse to take the tests. To make informed decisions, they need to know, for example, that PARCC tests are designed by corporations for the benefit of corporations who would like children to become compliant workers.

One of the things that really sparks students interest is when we tell them that they are not alone in being subjected to these tests, that theres an opt-out movement across the country, and that in NY, at least 280,000 students have refused to take the tests this year.

So this discussion becomes a part of students education, especially since we are giving them flyers with more information and questions to consider. They can bring them home to discuss with their parents.

After flyering at a school, the teams discuss what students, parents, teachers and administrators said, how we responded, and how to improve our work. We would like to get comments and suggestions from others about how best to give out flyers and talk to everyone who is there. Perhaps readers would like to judge our flyers for themselves and give us their views on how we can improve our work.

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

The flier we have been distributed recently, unformatted--

PARENTS & STUDENTS:

Please consider --

--Should students have to take harmful standardized tests?

--Should parents & students use their right to refuse to take these tests?

__________________________________________________

Why are so many parents, students & teachers opposing the PARCC tests?

In Chicago and across the country thousands of teachers, parents and other working people are angry and upset about the PARCC tests. Why? (PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a test created by a private consortium and aligned to the corporate-created Common Core standards.)

? The PARCC tests are used to find out whether students are learning what corporations want them to

learnhow to be useful, obedient employees. This is not the broad education that educators, parents and teachers want to enable children to become thinking people able to make value judgments for themselves.

? Teachers are stressed out because they have to spend time training students to take tests which wont help students to learn. This cuts into time to help the children who are having trouble with reading or math. And to teach about history, science, art, music and languages or to learn how to do serious thinking about problems in America.

? Too much time is being taken away from learning. Children are already taking too many standardized tests. Now, every student taking the PARCC test loses at least 9 hours. The tests mean the children lose those hours of class time, and many months of being drilled to get ready for the tests.

? PARCC tests are filled with confusing questions, that often have no clearly correct answers for the multiple choice questions. Children come home crying after they take practice tests that are too hard for their grade. They are afraid that they will not pass the PARCC tests.

? Many children will fail because the organizers of the tests set the passing grade too high. They have told parents that 70% of the children will fail. The corporations who want Common Core and the tests that go with it think that a very high failure rate is just fine. From their standpoint, students need to be stretched to meet higher standards. According to them, when children fail, they try harder.

? The PARCC tests have not been carefully tried out. This is a try-out year. Childrens scores wont count till next year. So this year children will be like guinea pigs running through mazes in a laboratory.

? Now is the time to act. Next year it will be worse--people will be punished for low scores. Children who fail may have to repeat a whole grade. Their teachers may be given bad marks and eventually be fired, if their students get low grades. Are teachers supposed to be magicians? It is well known that standardized test results basically reflect the socio-economic situation a student comes from, with children from richer families almost always scoring relatively high. Can teachers make the problems of students disappear when they are poor, have to deal with racism, and dont know whether they will find decent jobs in the future?

? Neighborhood schools may also be unfairly graded as failures and then shut down, or shaken up by outsiders.

? When the grades on the tests are finally available to teachers, it will be impossible for teachers to use them to help the children, because the Pearson Corporation, creators of the tests, wont allow teachers to see the questions and answers, or how particular children answered specific questions. Pearson Company and others own the tests and those are the rules they dictate.

Does this all sound like a nightmare? Lets wake up before its too late. Lets have discussion about all the facts. Lets talk about the right of students to refuse to take the tests that are harmful to them.

Last year, all across the country, tens of thousands of children opted out of the tests. In Chicago, over 1500 parents, teachers and students opted out of the ISAT tests. This year many more are opting out.

Do you want to join other parents and students to stand up together and be part of the OPT-OUT MOVEMENT?

Please call or email us for more information and for help in getting together with others to discuss what to do.

Below is an opt-out form that can be used by parents. Note that students have the right to opt out themselves, even without a letter from a parent, and just need to inform a teacher or administrator. If any problem comes up on any of this, please let us know, and we will put you in touch with those who can provide assistance.

This leaflet is from Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice,

773.250.3335, justice.yes@juno.com

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