OPT OUT NEWS, DAY ONE: CTU slams CPS 'dishonesty and outright lies...' 'Teachers are teaching...' while boycotting ISAT

One group called it "testing chaos." The Chicago Teachers Union exposed the bullying and lies spread by officials of the third largest school system in the United States of America. But by the time Chicago's public schools day ended on March 4, 2014, one thing was clear. The greatest Opt Out movement in the history of so-called "standardized testing" had broken the back of the tests that for more than two decades have formed the ridiculous basis for "Race To The Top" and the various other attacks on America's public schools.

Sarah Chambers, a teacher at Maria Saucedo elementary school in Chicago, explained to a March 4, 2014 press conference about how the day went at her school, where the vast majority of teachers were boycotting the ISAT by refusing to administer the test and the majority of children had been opted out by their parents. Substance photo by David Vance.The event was the first day of the ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) testing in Chicago.

While some schools reported scandalous conduct by school officials, at most schools things were less intense. After full-throated threats by CPS officials to fire teachers who refused to administer the tests, CPS officials didn't even try to order the boycotting teachers to go home. After all, the teachers were prepared to teach -- but not to administer tests that everyone considered a nonsensical and very expensive waste of time and money.

One far south side elementary school teacher, who asked for now to remain anonymous, told Substance that her principal had continued to harass children whose parents had requested that they be opted out of the ISAT. According to students at the school, the principal ordered staff members to take pencils and pens away from the children who were opting out and ordered the children to sit silently with nothing to do during the testing.

As another school in the same "Network," news reports said that the principal ordered an ice cream party for children who took the test -- but no ice cream for those who were opting out.

Both those schools are under the direction of the same "Chief Network Officer," Karen Saffold. According to many test resisters, the intensity with which principals and other school officials have lied and bullied has depended upon the way in which the "Network Chiefs" are operating in 2014. Unlike all other large school districts in the USA, Chicago doesn't have "sub-districts." Instead, the Chicago Board of Education has changed the name of the sub-districts over the years from "Regions" (during the time of Paul Vallas, 1995 - 2001), to "Areas" (during the time of Arne Duncan) to "Networks" (since Rahm Emanuel's school board took office in 2011). A "Chief Officer of Schools" or "Network Chief" is supposedly the militarized top official in the "Network" in 2014. Many of the CPS Network Chiefs are not even certified school administrators under Illinois law, but their willingness to bully principals -- and the principals' silence in the face of it -- allow that power to persist, unique in the United States.

In another "Network," one principal dispatched the so-called "FACE managers" to proctor the ISAT along with teachers who oppose the ISAT. The FACE (stands for the office of "Family And Community Engagement") are, like many of the Network Chiefs, uncertified and unqualified. In many cases, they are patronage workers with jobs they got thanks to their aldermen or by virtue of being in favor of the mayor. Most do not have college degrees, but during the first day of ISAT 2014 they were trying to boss around teachers.

"A FACE person actually tried to tell me that having children read during the testing time was not 'quality instructional time," another teacher told Substance. The FACE person, whose qualifications as a teacher or certification as an Illinois educator are non-existent, continued to prattle about what constitutes "quality instruction."



March 4, 2014 by pure2013 in Uncategorized.

Press release *** For Immediate Release

March 4, 2014

Press release *** For Immediate Release

March 4, 2014

Contact: David Navarro, CPS parent, 773-403-3798

Julie Woestehoff, More Than a Score, 773-715-3989

Cassie Creswell, CPS parent, MTAS, 716-536-9313

Ferris Akrabawi, teacher, Saucedo, 773-220-8386

Sarah Chambers, teacher. Saucedo, 630-618-9009

ISAT testing chaos

Some opting out students forced to take test, denied paper, pencil, treats, bathroom breaks

Scattered reports of real learning breaking out where teachers refused to give tests

Chicago: Parents, teachers and students gathered this afternoon at Saucedo Elementary School to share their stories of opting out problems, challenges, and opportunities.

Today was the first day of Illinois Standards Achievement Testing (ISAT) for most schools and the situation was chaotic at many schools where students are opting out of the test, with parents reporting a number of problems.

? At Otis, students whose parents had filed opt out letters were made to take the test because their parents had not met with a network administrator before filing the opt out letter.

? Some opting out students at Addams were forced to take the test because an administrator said the signatures on the opt out letters were forged by the students. One opting out child at Addams was made to sit in the classroom during the test, denied a bathroom break, and watched their classmates eat treats that were given to the tested children but not those opting out.

? One opting out student was told she could not have paper and pencil at his desk during the test, and a student at Garvey was not even allowed to read during the test.

? Several parents reported that principals repeated misinformation that schools would losing money or that CPS could change their minds and go back to using the ISAT for promotion or selective enrollment. David Navarro, a parent at Addams, said, My daughters class is being given an ice cream party at the end of testing but my daughter and the other opting out students are not invited because they didnt take the test. All over the school they have anti-bullying posters on the walls, but I feel as if my family is being bullied because of the tests. If they had given us a good reason for taking the ISAT, that would have been fine, but all they gave us was the run around.

More parent stories available please call Cassie Creswell at 716-536-9313.

But many opting out students have enjoyed a day of learning, not testing, and many teachers who refused to give the tests were happy to have had the time to teach, not test.

Ferris Akrabawi, an 8th grade teacher at Saucedo, said that by not giving the test, he was able to what he feels he was supposed to be doing: I taught. The class continued their study of a transcript of the trial of Mahatma Gandhi. Ferris said that one student even had an Oh wow! moment, during the lesson, something that teachers live for.

Sarah Chambers, another Saucedo teacher, was able to give a lesson in Algebra. She called that a victory and a successful day. She also noted that Mayor Emanuel has opted his children out of the ISAT by enrolling them in a private school where they give very few standardized tests.

More Than a Score, which has provided information and support for parents interested in opting their children out of some of the many standardized tests given in CPS this year, collected more than two dozen complaints from parents during the day today, and has added them to the complaint they filed yesterday with the American Civil Liberties Union.

MTAS encourages parents to continue to report problems with opting out to our hot line, 413-3OPTOUT or by email at

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HUGE VICTORY for Saucedo teachers, parents and students! Although CPS tried to intimidate us by sending 20 CPS security and network minions, we stood our ground. Boycotting teachers were able to teach engaging lessons, such as Gandhi and Rosa Parks acts of civil disobedience and non-violent protest. Students, who opted out, were not tormented with the anxiety of testing. Parents were happy to see their children leave school with smiles on their faces, thrilled that they took part in a meaningful lesson rather than mindless bubbling. This is the first ISAT test week that I have not seen a student cry or break down in front of me, saying No hablo ingles. Por que tengo que tomar este examen (I dont speak english, why do I have to take this test)? or I cant read this, it is way too hard for me. Today, we took back our classrooms, our schools and our students education. CPS, this is just the beginning.


Teachers continue bold and moral stance against unnecessary low-stakes test

CHICAGO-The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) this week continues its steadfast support of the teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Thomas Drummond Montessori School who are boycotting the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), but is extremely concerned about the ever-growing confusion generated by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in its communication to parents regarding their opt-out rights. Thousands of parents across the city have chosen to opt their children out of the ISAT, and as the number of opt-out decisions increase, the district is creating mass chaos in homes with dishonesty and outright lies.

CPS has not only attempted to ignore parent opt-out letters, but at some schools, staffers have suggested that parents themselves volunteer to supervise students who have been opted out of the ISAT. At other schools, the district is stating that it is the choice of the student-and not the parent-to opt out, and in one of the most egregious actions, Local School Council members were told that they would have to pay a fine if students were opted out of the exam and their schools would lose federal funding. The confusion was spread through as many as five, robo calls to Saucedo and Drummond parents over the weekend.

"This culture of confusion and disinformation is nothing new for CPS, but they sadly have found a way to take it to the next level," said CTU VP Jesse Sharkey. "At a time when parents are taking an active stand to guide the course of their children's education, the district responds with threats and fear tactics as it works to hinder the process in any way it can.

"Who decides what's best for students-testing companies and bureaucrats or their parents and teachers," Sharkey said, noting the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers have voiced support for the boycott.

The district also continues to threaten educators who boycott the ISAT, but the CTU remains united in its support of these teachers during this critically important time. Joining the union are more than 120 university educators nationwide who have signed a letter of support for the teachers at Saucedo and Drummond taking a stand against standardized testing. "We understand assessment as the process of gathering evidence about learning, from multiple sources, so that teachers can better support student learning," the letter stated. "The ISAT, in contrast, contributes virtually nothing."

The CTU will be on hand at both school campuses on Tuesday to support educators who refuse to administer the ISAT, despite district threats.



PURE PRESS RELEASE...Contact: Julie Woestehoff, More Than a Score 773-715-3989 Press alert: Parents, teachers stand united for quality learning not

focused on testing

Dozens of ISAT opting out irregularities added to More Than a Score ACLU

complaint Who: Parents, teachers and students will gather at Saucedo Elementary

School to share opting out problems, challenges, and opportunities.

What: Day one of ISAT testing has been chaotic at many schools where

students are opting out of the ISAT, with parents reporting a number of

problems. But many opting out students have enjoyed a day of learning,

not testing, and teachers who refused to give the tests are happy to

have had the time to teach, not test. Where: Maria Saucedo Elementary School, 2850 West 24th Boulevard,


When: Today, March 4, 3:45 pm.


Sun-Times reported:

Despite a threat from the Chicago Public Schools chief that teachers who are refused to administer an annual state achievement test would be ordered to leave, boycotting teachers were being allowed to teach Tuesday, one teacher said.

CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent a letter to principals last week vowing to discipline any teacher who refused to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and threatening to remove them from the building.

But on Tuesday morning, Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher at Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic, said those teachers are still in the classroom.

Boycotting teachers are teaching, Chambers wrote in a text message, in which she included a smiley face.

Chambers said students who opted out of taking the test were handed the test booklets but then the testing materials were collected.

CPS officials could not immediately be reached, and Chicago Teachers Union officials did not have immediate comment.

About 40 Saucedo teachers voted unanimously last week to boycott the ISAT.

This ISAT test is absurd, Chambers said last week. It is not tied to anything its not used in promotion, its not used in graduation, its not used for leveling of the school.

"i've been opting out for a couple of years now." said Sam. It was fine, I just sat there and read. I read On The Run, about this hacker girl, an alliance of hackers. It says it's a team young adult version of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo..."

Seven people in my brothers class opted out.


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