Category Archives: Saucedo

We stand in solidarity with Sarah Chambers and the education justice movement

SarahChambers_micCelebrate national teacher appreciation day today by supporting one of the true champions of social justice education in the country! Below is a statement of solidarity by leading educators around the nation in defense of Sarah Chambers from the trumped up charges levied against her. Help Sarah today by sharing the below statement on social media and by signing the online petition.

We stand in solidarity with Sarah Chambers and the education justice movement

Sarah Chambers is an award winning special education teacher in Chicago’s Saucedo Academy. Sarah is a local leader a national figure in the fight to defend and transform public education against the corporate education reform attack. She is a relentless advocate for special education students and LGBTQ students. Sarah is a published author, organizer, and speaker on issues of education reform and social justice.

Now Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has accused her of encouraging students to opt out of the PARCC Test, a wholly unsubstantiated charge.  While Sarah has long been a proponent of promoting critical thinking over drill-and-kill standardized testing, her advocacy has always been directed at consciousness raising among her colleagues to help change policy, not telling kids what to do about the tests. It is clear that CPS has suspended her and is moving to fire her for her courageous advocacy on behalf of her students.

Moreover, this attack on Sarah Chambers is an attack on the entire movement for education justice, the movement for authentic assessment over standardized testing, and an attack on union organizers generally.

We the undersigned demand that the Chicago Public Schools drop their erroneous charges against Sarah Chambers and instead use their resources to better support the social, emotional, and academic development of Chicago students.

Wayne Au
Professor, School of Educational Studies, University of Washington
Editor, Rethinking Schools

Bill Bigelow
Curriculum Editor, Rethinking Schools
Co-Director, Zinn Education Project

Nancy Carlsson-Paige
Professor Emerita Lesley University

Michelle Fine
Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, American Studies and Urban Education, The Graduate Center CUNY

Jesse Hagopian
Editor of the book, More Than a Score Editor, Rethinking Schools
Editor, Rethinking Schools

Julian Vasquez Heilig
Professor of Educational Leadership, Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership, California State University Sacramento. California NAACP Education Chair.

Brian Jones
Educator and activist, New York City
Doctoral candidate in Urban Education, City University of New York Graduate Center

Journey for Justice (J4J)
An alliance of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations in 24 cities across the country

Kevin Kumashiro
Former Dean, University of San Francisco School of Education

Jia Lee
Elementary School teacher, Earth School, NYC
Organizer, Movement of Rank-and-file Educators

Jose Luis Vilson
Author, This is Not a Test
Executive Director of EduColor

Lois Weiner
Professor, New Jersey City University
Director, Urban Education and Teacher Unionism Police Project

The Test Boycott Is On!

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.
Garfield High School staff gather in solidarity with Saucedo Elementary's boycott of the ISAT.

Garfield High School staff gather in solidarity with Saucedo Elementary’s boycott of the ISAT

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 ( 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.

Chicago teachers at Saucedo Elementary vote unanimously to boycott the Illinois Standards Achievement Test: We scrapped the MAP! You can Ice the ISAT!


Ballots from the unanimous vote of teachers at Saucedo to boycott the ISAT

A beautiful thing happened today.  Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).

Since teachers at Garfield High School—and then several other schools in Seattle—voted to boycott the MAP test last year, there has been an explosion of activism against high-stakes, standardized tests. And yet outside of Seattle, there had not yet been another school where the entire staff collectively raised their voice and boycotted a test—that is until now.

The brave teachers at Saucedo Elementary are taking up the struggle and using the power of collective action to refuse to waste students’ valuable class time with another destructive test.  As the teachers have pointed out, getting rid of the ISAT would leave the students with still a plethora of standardized tests, including the MAP tests, new Interim Benchmark Tests, REACH Performance Tasks, ACCESS tests, NAEP tests, pilot Common Core tests and more. Already, hundreds of parents at Saucedo have pledged to opt their child out of the ISAT.

With the Parents and teachers united in this struggle, Saucedo is now on the front lines in the battle for authentic assessment.  They will need our support.  Please take a minuet and sign the petition in the defense of the Saucedo educators—then send it on to everyone you know who believes that education should be about critical thinking, imagination, joy, and collaboration—not about rote memorization and eliminating wrong answer choices.

From my experience in helping to organize the MAP boycott in Seattle, here is the advice I have for the Saucedo teachers:

Corporate education reformers will use their wealth to publicize the idea that you teachers are selfish and your refusal to give the test will damage students.  They will complain that teachers don’t want to be held accountable and that high-stakes standardized is the key to improving education. Don’t listen to them.  They are pushing these tests because it is a multibillion dollar industry and because reducing the intellectual process of teaching and learning to a single score is the centerpiece of their plan to label the public schools as failing and then push their privatizing agenda. Instead, listen to the many thousands of parents, students, and teachers around the nation that are supporting you in this struggle to assert that our children and educators are more than a test score.

The corporate education reformers, and the politicians they have bought, will issue threats of discipline for your audacity in refusing to hand the schools over to testing companies.  They threatened us in Seattle when we refused to give the MAP test, but we showed that the power of solidarity can overcome the powerful.  Not a single teacher was disciplined and the MAP test was made optional through our struggle.

We scrapped the MAP.  You can Ice the ISAT!

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