Hundreds of Chicago students are taking up the mantle in the fight against the role of standardized tests in public school closures as they walked out of a state exam Wednesday. Their message: "We are over-tested, under-resourced and fed up!"
Over 300 students from over 25 different Chicago public schools boycotted the second day of a state-wide standardized test.
Ahead of a school board meeting, at which the demonstrators were banned from speaking, the students rallied outside the district headquarters carrying placards and forming a human chain.
"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.
Brian Sturgis, senior at Paul Robesan High School and boycott organizer with the group Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS), declared in an op-ed "We are Chicago students and we are here to save our schools!"
Mayor Emanuel and his Board of Education want to close 54 grammar schools around the city, all of which are in black and Latino communities: this is racist. These schools are also being judged based on assessments and tests given throughout the year: this is foolish. These school closings will leave neighborhoods dismantled, parents lost, students unaccounted for, and more importantly, will put children in harmful situations: this is dangerous.
Sturgis explains that Mayor Emanuel and the Board of Education
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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. This is what happened when 68 low-scoring juniors were demoted to sophomore status at a southwest side high school in Chicago last month, right before the state test.
The student boycott follows a protest earlier this month, Occupy the Department of Education, during which teachers and education activists descended on the Capitol to draw attention to the rampant privatization of public schools and the rash of recent school closures.
In February, a nationwide day of action led by the Seattle school teachers' boycott of a standardized test brought this issue to national attention.
CSOSOS released this video to spread word of Tuesday's action.