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Illinois House passes Opt Out bill by wide margin... '...a real grassroots win for parents around the state who have spent months calling and visiting legislators and going to Springfield...' The legislation now goes to the Senate before facing a threatened veto by Governor Rauner...

The Illinois House passed HB 306, the parent Opt Out bill sponsored by State Rep. Will Guzzardi and odzens of others, on May 19, 2015 by a decisive vote of 64 47. The bill now goes to the Illinois Senate, where supporters are optimistic it will also pass. The House votes were mainly along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of the legislation and Republicans voting against.

Illinois State Rep. Will Guzzardi (left) was the main sponsor of HB 306, which passed the State House on May 19, 2015. The bill will give Illinois parents the right to opt their children out of so-called "standardized" tests. The passage of the legislation helps the state and Chicago Opt Out movements, which have grown this school year to include thousands of students across the state. Although parents have opted their children out of the so-called "standardized" tests for years in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois, the lack of clear state guidelines resulted in stressful situations for many children, Although in many schools students who opted out were allowed to read quietly during the time others were taking the tests, at other schools the children were forced to "sit and stare." Should the legislation become Illinois law, it would make clear the guidelines by means of which families could opt their children out.

The passage of the bill by the Illinois House leaves two steps to the bill becoming law. It must pass the Illinois Senate and then be signed by Governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner, an outspoken supporter of corporate "school reform," has said he would veto the legislation if it gets as far as his desk.

Leaders of the Chicago Opt Out movement, including parent groups like Raise Your Hand and More Than A Score and the Chicago Teachers Union, were gladdened by the House vote, which came after weeks of intense lobbying.

RAISE YOUR HAND THANKED EVERYONE FOR THE INTENSE LOBBYING THAT LED TO THE RESULT:

Congrats to all the parents, students, teachers and concerned citizens who have worked on this so far! HB306 passed in the House today with a 64-47 vote.

This is a real grassroots win for parents around the state who have spent months calling and visiting legislators and going to Springfield. to get this legislation passed. Parents should not need a law to defend their rights to weigh in on whether their children take a state test but since the state board of education told all schools that parents can't make this decision and students must refuse on their own, this is the case. This bill also creates clear and concise policy and prohibits districts from forcing kids to "sit and stare" at the wall during testing. We appreciate the hard work of Rep Guzzardi and all the co-sponsors who listened to their constituents on this matter and pushed forward despite threats of vetoes and other claims.The bill now moves to the Senate and we will be asking parents who have worked on this so far to reach out to their State Senators to support the bill. RYH will be in Springfield tomorrow to continue to work on this bill.

Sun-Times coverage

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Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education

THE CHICAGO SUN TIMES REPORTED THE EVENT ON THE AFTERNOON OF MAY 19, 2015:

Illinois House passes opt-out bill aimed at PARCC testing, Posted by the Chicago Sun-Times 05/19/2015, 03:06pm |, reported by Natasha Korecki

Illinois House members advanced a bill that would give parents a formal way to opt out of state tests such as the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

House members voted 64-47 with one person voting present. The measure now moves to the Senate.

The extensive debate over the bill on Tuesday spun into a broader discussion over how lawmakers believe the states only standardized test is deeply flawed. Lawmakers expressed frustration that the state remains on the hook for a four-year, $160 million contract to a firm to administer the test.

The tests length, along with technological problems, has prompted groups of parents across the state wanting their children to sit out. But theres no clear way for parents to communicate to teachers about their desires to opt out and theres nothing on the books laying out alternate activities for students who opt out. Some schools adopted sit and stare policies that has students who opted out sitting idle for up to 11 hours, lawmakers complained.

This bill wouldnt take PARCC away. Opt-outs happening, it happened last year, it happened this year, it will happen next year whether we pass this bill or not, state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said. All this bill does is create a clear process and take the student out of the role as the decision maker.

Guzzardi, sponsor of HB306, said that now if parents think the state standardized test is inappropriate they tell their children to refuse to take the test, putting them in an awkward position. Some older students are opting out on their own without consulting their parents.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, a longtime supporter of the school reform movement, has threatened to veto the opt-out bill and has been leaning on Republican lawmakers to vote no. The governors administration worries Illinois could lose federal funding for poor students or local control over that money if more than 5 percent of students statewide refuse to take the PARCC.

Raise Your Hand, a parent group in Chicago, has been lobbying for the opt-out law, saying its unfair not to let parents make decisions about their childrens education and ineffective to make children sit in silence while classmates are testing. The group also believes PARCC, at up to 11 hours long, eats up too much instructional time.

Were asking third-graders to show up and say no to their teacher, Guzzardi said. Were asking students with developmental disabilities to show up and say no to their teacher.

Beyond that, Guzzardi argues that having a process on the books would urge schools to allow the students who sit out to have an alternate activity, such as doing work in a library. Right now, some districts have sit and stare policies, where students who are not taking the test sit and stare at a wall, Guzzardi said.

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, opposed the measure, arguing that it puts the state at risk over losing federal funding, which she estimated at $1.3 billion.

The only test that the state mandates is PARCC. Those other tests those come from the local school districts, not from us, Currie said. Currie said numerous national groups have said the PARCC tests is the only way to gauge how poorly we educated children in subgroups, including special education, poor and minority students.

But Guzzardi said six other states have already put opt-out laws on the books and have not lost a dime in federal funding.

State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, was one of a number of state lawmakers who expressed how much they disliked the PARCC test as the states only standardized gauge.

PARCC and Common Core are two of the worst conceived projects in state history, Kay said. This is a failed test. Nobody understands it. The kids dont understand it . Teachers dont understand it. . . . I think it is a canard.

State Rep. Ken Dunkin raised issues over the cost of PARRC, saying the four-year contract with NCS Pearson to develop and administer the test means the state is on the hook for about $160 million for a test that is deeply flawed.

Other lawmakers raised concerns that federal funding would be at risk if too many students opt out of taking the standardized test. But Guzzardi said the law says otherwise.

There is no federal law that says that our state has to test 95 percent of our students, Guzzardi said. There was, but Illinois has obtained a waiver on that law.



Comments:

May 20, 2015 at 1:14 PM

By: Rod Estvan

very odd vote on HB 306

First off both Access Living any myself supported HB 306. But the vote sure was strange, the most conservative members of the Republican caucus supported the bill as did many of the most liberal members of the Democrat caucus in the House.

Besides Currie that the article notes voted against the bill, so did Democrats Crespo, Nekritz, and Christian Mitchell. The Speaker supported the bill, but the House minority leader voted no. As it stands assuming the bill passes the Senate and the positions remain the same there are not the votes in the House to override a veto by Governor Rauner which requires 71 votes in the House.

Rod Estvan

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