CPS protests: Students reject tests, charter school backers want equal funding
BY MONIFA THOMAS Staff Reporteremail@example.com April 24, 2013 8:44PM
Chicago high school students boycott school, state test and converge on Chicago Board of Education meeting to protest plan to close 54 elementary schools, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. | Jessica Koscielniak~Sun-Times
Updated: May 29, 2013 6:22AM
Two different groups of protesters gathered Wednesday outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters to make their voices heard.
One group, Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, included juniors who boycotted school on the day they should have been taking a standardized test that determines whether they will go on to 12th grade.
They object to standardized testing, which they said was one of the criteria to select the 53 elementary schools and one high schools slated for closing in June. They asked CPS to put a moratorium on those closings .
“We’re just trying to make a statement that tests should not determine our future or the future of our schools,” said student organizer Alexssa Moore, a senior at Lindblom High School.
The protesters yelled, “Education is a right. We won’t go without a fight” and carried signs that read “Don’t test me bro.” At one point, students were kicked out of the district lobby by security officials who said they had failed to register to speak at the school board meeting Wednesday.
Organizers had said they were expecting about 300 CPS students, but they said intimidation may have made some change their mind about attending the protest. CPS sent letters to the homes of juniors Monday and Tuesday, and all parents of juniors received a robocall reminding them how important the test results are to each student’s future.
Chicago Police estimated there were 100 protesters, including those from the another group, Charter Parents United, which put the number at closer to 200.
High school juniors were supposed to be taking a state-mandated test, the Prairie State Achievement Exam, which measures reading, mathematics and science.
Students and parents said they weren’t concerned about students boycotting the test because there is a makeup day in May.
Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, meanwhile, issued a statement Wednesday, saying, “The only place that students should be during the school day is in the classroom with their teachers getting the education they need to be successful in life. Today’s PSAE is one of the most critical exams our students will take. Every adult should support and encourage our students to make sure they are in school.”
Toni Seas, a member of Charter Parents United who has a 16-year-old daughter at Gary Comer College Prep, said, “We want equal funding for our equal education. Because we’re paying equal funding, and we want our share.”
Charter advocates have said privately run schools have been unfairly blamed for school closings by the Chicago Teachers Union and other opponents of school closings. On Wednesday, they also spoke against a resolution signed by 35 alderman that requested a moratorium on the number of charter schools in Chicago.