Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Open Letter to Teachers and Parents Refusing to Test

Dear CPS Teachers and Parents,

What do you mean you are "opting out of the ISAT"?   There is no opting out in testing.  You are failing as teachers, as parents, and as students.  The way that we are able to show you just how badly you are doing is through these tests.  I have a crack team of writers ready to help me craft op-ed articles on the terrible state of education. If I have to lay off these writers, you are hurting the economy.

The failure of the Chicago Public Schools is well documented.  Last month, I visited a public school in Beijing.  I was in a room of 8 year olds and every one of them spoke fluent Chinese.  How many of your 8 year old children are fluent in Chinese?  Make no mistake, those children will be competing with these same Chinese children for jobs.

Standardized testing is important.  Yes, I know Rahm's children don't have to take the ISAT at the Lab School, but they just got a $25 million dollar donation from George Lucas to build a new art wing.  It'd be rude to be ignoring the arts at a time like this.  I also know that this test will be about as relevant to CPS students as a timed typing test on a manual typewriter would be, but we need data.

I am outraged by the educational malpractice of teachers and parents in denying students the joy of filling in a test answer sheet.   For those who say that testing stifles creativity, well then you have never had the joy of facing a page of empty test bubbles.  Do you shade from the outside in or from the inside out? Maybe you start at the middle and shade across the surface of the circle.  There are so many choices.

Have you seen the Saucedo teachers?  I couldn't get over their spokesperson, a special education teacher named Sarah Chambers.  She's the one in the fancy coat with the expensive fur collar.   I heard her speak and she makes it sound as if giving students test after test is pointless and possibly abusive.  Puh-lease.  Kids love testing.

We have made great strides in transforming our schools, but 25% of our students still remain in the bottom quartile.  Even more troubling, the students in that bottom quartile are far more likely to be in economic distress.  For those who say that tests don't matter, think about that.  If we can just improve their test scores, we can help lift them out of poverty.  Even the second lowest quartile is far better off financially.  

Opting out is child abuse pure and simple.  What are the kids going to do if they don't test?  Read a book?  We can't afford to waste their time like this.  Our children are precious.

Myron Miner

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