The testing boycott is official!
Today, teachers at Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy and Thomas Drummond Elementary School are refusing to distribute the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT), even though Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has said they could lose their state certification if they boycott the test.
Why would dedicated teachers–from Seattle to Chicago–add the stress of disciplinary action against them to an already stressful job and refuse to distribute bubble tests to kids? I asked that question to one of the leaders of the Saucedo boycott, Sarah Chambers. She told me,
“Saucedo staff took a stand for their students and voted unanimously to teach instead of administering the Illinois state achievement test (ISAT). After hearing the voices of over 350 parents who turned in their opt-out forms for their children, the Saucedo staff joined their parents in pushing back against the unjust regime of over-testing. Students also joined the fight by passing a unanimous motion that encouraged all students to opt-out of the ISAT exam. We are sick and tired of Chicago Public Schools seeing our students as numbers and not human beings. Standardized assessments tell us more about the students’ economic background than their actual academic performance. Parents, students, and teachers are in this fight together to take back our public schools from the profiteers who are making millions from these tests and test-prep materials. Saucedo is taking this step of civil disobedience because the inhuman amount of over-testing has spiraled out of control and we are advocating for our students’ education. This is one step towards reclaiming our public schools and our humanity.”
The corporate education reformers had better listen to Ms. Chambers and act quickly to end the high-stakes standardized testing tyranny–because educators around the nation are done having a failed business model imposed on their schools that is turning teachers into technicians tasked with “adding value” to students as if they were products on an assembly line.
I wish you could have been at Garfield High School last week when I announced to our staff that a school in Chicago had begun a testing boycott. A cheer went up at our staff meeting as we all realized we are now truly part of a conscientious objectors movement that is refusing to be silenced about education policy and the work we do every day.
This movement has just began. You can join it by sending a picture/statement of support to the teachers (COREteachers@gmail.com) or signing their petition. Or better yet by participating in an action against standardized testing yourself. The Testing Resistance and Reform Spring website has gathered many of the most important groups around the country in the fight to defend public education and is helping to coordinate these actions.
Teachers now know we are on the right side of history in the struggle to transform our classrooms from test-prep factories into centers of critical thinking. When you know you are on the right side of history, you don’t back down.