OPT OUT DAY TWO: Principals ordered to turn in daily tally of teachers and children choosing to opt out of the ISAT while the bullying of teachers and children continues

As the controversies over the Chicago Opt Out movement become part of national news, most Chicago public schools have been handling the issues swirling around the ISAT (Illinois State Achievement Tests) testing and massive opt outs professionally, while a small number have been abusing children whose families choose to opt them out. Meanwhile, the top administrators at CPS have ordered principals to provide them with a daily tally of who is in and who is out of Opt Out.

Chicago's "Chief of Chiefs" Denise Little has reportedly been behind much of the push to reduce the number of children opting out by any means necessary. The pressure on principals across the city has come through the "Network Chiefs," who report to Denise Little. Often, the intimidation against teachers and families is done by the principals using lies and half-truths as well as bullying -- all of which would cause educators to face disciplinary charges had not the Chicago Board of Education panicked in the face of the largest Opt Out in the history of America's so-called "standardized tests." Relaxing behind Ms. Little is Chicago's "Chief Officer for Innovation and Incubation", Jack Elsey, who was imported to Chicago at a salary of $165,000 per year by Barbara Byrd Bennett despite the fact that he has never taught a day in Chicago and has no Illinois administrative license. Substance photo from the November 20, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education by George N. Schmidt."We are now to send in to networks each day a report of how many students were tested, how many were absent, how many teachers refused to give the exam, how many were absent," a principal who asked to remain anonymous told Substance. Other confirmed that this request had been made via the "Chiefs of Schools" (also known as the "Network Chiefs") across the nation's third largest school system.

As Substance and others begin to further document the extent of the Opt Out movement against ISAT in Chicago, it becomes clear that the city's local school principals have been ordered to work overtime to minimize the number of children opting out -- by any means necessary including intimidation and lying.

Since hundreds of families turned in letters to their local schools demanding the right to opt out during the last week of February, just before the ISAT testing began on March 3 and March 4, 2014, principals have taken to using a disinformation campaign to force many parents to reverse their Opt Out decision. This campaign has ranged from phone calls and robo-calls from schools claiming a number of possible consequences that are simply not true. These range from the claim that a school will lose federal Title One money if a large number of children Opt Out to individual bullying of children whose families opt them out.

While reports of the bullying are small, the resonance grows with each passing day. One example (from Addams elementary on Chicago's Southeast Side) even made national news when a parent was willing to go to the media with the story: children who took the ISAT received an ice cream party, while those who opted out were made to sit and watch. Other grotesque examples of the mistreatment of children were also shared with Substance and others, including a principal who berated a child forced to sit in the principal's office and then ordered the child not to eat a snack brought from home because, according to the principal, graham crackers are "not a healthy food choice."

The centralized nature of the intimidations attempted by CPS against teachers, parents and children has also been applied to the media. Reporters who wish to cover stories at individual schools are required to make their request in advance and wait until the massive CPS "Communications Department" (which has doubled in cost since Rahm Emanuel took over the school system in 2011) provides the reporter with an escort from the propaganda department. While some reporters are referring to this as the "KGB tail", others are noting that the policy is being enforced by a former Tribune reporter, Joel Hood, who now makes his living as a full-time propagandist for CPS.


March 7, 2014 at 12:45 AM

By: David R. Stone

ISAT issues

Instructions given to teachers who are administering the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) in March 2014 say that is a violation of security to copy, analyze or even read the test. With my knowledge of how the Chicago Board of Education once years ago disciplined George Schmidt, publisher of Substance News, for sharing information about a previous standardized test, I will be circumspect as I post this comment. I will neither copy nor analyze this years ISAT.

Yet I will describe my students experience with the ISAT Reading-Session 2. To protect myself from a charge of violating security, I didnt exactly read the test, but I had to glance at it when students asked me how they should interpret some test instructions.

The instructions came in the third part of the Reading-Session 2 test. The first part asked students to read a non-fiction passage and answer multiple-choice questions. The second part asked them to read a fiction passage and answer multiple-choice questions. The third part asked them to write (in their own words) an extended response about the lessons a reader could learn from the passage.

Of course, I am not copying the instructions, but that is a fairly accurate paraphrase. You may notice as some of my students did that the instructions did not tell them WHICH passage was supposed to be the subject of their extended response.

As the teacher administering the test, I was not allowed to give them any help in answering any test questions in the reading section. Apparently they are being tested on their ability to interpret ambiguous instructions, as well their ability to read non-fiction and fiction.

Some students chose to write an extended response about the non-fiction passage; some wrote about the fiction passage; some wrote a response that referred to both passages.

I will not analyze how their responses might be scored.

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