Fed Up With Schools, Chicago Kids Boycott State Tests

One observer compares the protest to the student lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s.

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Student protesters in Chicago. (Screengrab from ABC Chicago)

A group of Chicago students protesting the city's planned school closings and what they see as overreliance on standardized testing boycotted Wednesday's Prairie State Achievement Exam and demonstrated outside a school board meeting, Yahoo News reports. "Today we are boycotting the second day of PSAE to show that standardized testing should not decide the future of our schools and students," one girl said at the protest. 

Mark Naison, a Fordham University professor who tracks educational movements, compared the activism to the student lunch counter sit-ins that began in Greensboro, N.C., in 1960. "In both instances, you had a situation that many people thought was outrageous -- and yes, many people do think the level of testing in schools has become so intrusive and counterproductive that it is national tragedy -- but people in elected office seemed unable to change, so young people decided to take history into their own hands," he said. "I would not be surprised to see these walkouts and boycotts multiply next year."

They are also fed up with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the public school system's leaders in their attempts to shutter 54 school programs and 61 school buildings, mostly in underprivileged and minority neighborhoods.

Brian Sturgis, a senior at Chicago's Paul Robeson High School and an organizer of the boycott, wrote in an Education Week blog, "Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Board of Education are supposed to make the CPS system work for all of us. But instead they are putting too much pressure on standardized testing and threatening to close schools that don't have high test scores. When schools are under so much pressure to raise test scores it leads to low-scoring students being neglected, not supported."

The protestors posted frequently on social media to keep people updated on their activities. Their Twitter feed shows a picture of students lined up, arms interlocked, in front of school. One student held a sign that said, "The best way to learn is by taking a test -- No child ever said."

The students' activities haven't sat well with administrators.

Earlier this week, the school district made robocalls to students' parents, warning how important the test results are to a their children's academic future.

Every student must take at least one day of the two-day exam to be promoted to 12th grade and graduate. The second part of the test, given on Wednesday, included science, math and reading. This part, in turn, gives a career-readiness certificate endorsed by employers to students.

Read more at Yahoo News.

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