OP-ED: An Arizonans Thoughts About the Chicago Students Boycotting State Tests

Stephen Stollmack April 24, 2013 0

By Stephen Stollmack – Education Correspondent
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org

Chicago Students Boycott

The Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 sternly counseled HS Juniors in Chicago Public Schools: “you know where you belong on Wednesday”, in school taking the second part of the PSAE test. Because the editorial goes on to explain that;

A student boycott is planned — and the threat is serious enough to rattle CPS leaders. Letters went home to 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.

And, further, that:

All students must sit for at least one day of the two-day exam to be promoted to 12th grade and graduate. The first day is the ACT exam, the second includes science, math and reading tests that can lead to a career-readiness certificate endorsed by employers. The PSAE also is used to help evaluate each school and teacher.

While there are makeup days planned, the editorial scolds ‘organizers’ for encouraging students to refuse to take the test “to protest CPS’ planned closures of 54 schools”. The Sun Times says:

We can’t stand with them on that, as some schools are genuinely under-enrolled and should be closed.

The paper goes on to recognize other reasons for the protest – including “complaints about excessive testing” which it recognizes as being valid:

Starting in kindergarten, students are subjected to a litany of standardized tests every year. Some have value, some do not. Tests and test prep consume too much of the school day and year. And… school closure decisions and teacher evaluations are (inappropriately?) tied to the results.

The editorial allowed that “some schools do not belong on the closure list (citing 3 of the 54 by name) and then giving their profound advice:

Want to make an impact? Start there (with those 3 schools, I guess).

Start here; how? You are willing to give them like partial credit because 3 of the 54, in your eyes, really should not be closed down? So, how do you pick the 51 … what’s that you are reading from? It’s a balance sheet, right? It shows which schools had the highest per student costs — supposedly because the denominators (number of enrolled students) decreased while the numerators (costs of keeping the schools open) remained the same or may even increase if you consider what’s known as the “Lost Opportunity Cost” or the money the state would have to forgo by not being able to use the buildings for other purposes.

So, I want to ask, what happened to the children in the denominators? I know you would say, like, ‘some families had to move because the freeway had to go through’ … and what’s that about your being able to get more taxes if you can attract more business to move in to replace these families.  And you might add that some people couldn’t pay the rent or cover the mortgage because the economy turned down?

So, this is how the ‘new math’ works? You get to leave out messy numbers like the value of the schools to the ‘communities’ and the health of its citizens or the availability of young people with healthy attitudes willing to go fight in your wars. So, every year, you can do this; you can remake these calculations depending on the crumbs that these companies drop off the table as they leave our shores for the cheap labor that they can get in China or Malaysia or India. The CPS has no guilt that prevents it from recalculating these cost-per student ratios (they did not cause the business downturn) to identify which ones need to be closed so that it can justify contracting for more Charter Schools or issuing more Vouchers (which end up getting allocated to Church-related schools)?

So, here it is in a nutshell. Big business pressured states to make education mandatory and to provide the buildings and the infrastructure to lure people off the farms to the cities. So, the states have the responsibility for keeping the communities vibrant and providing the services people needed to live the city life. So, where are the contracts that bound industries to continue to support the government so it could then pay to keep the infrastructure solid? There aren’t any because people got paid off to not think about protecting the citizens and because everyone believed that capitalism and the industrial revolution would go on growing 5 to 10 percent a year, which is theoretically impossible in a finite world, and that people would endure chasing jobs all over the world for ever.

The state government slacked and the communities deteriorated and then businesses left for more profitable areas of the world and more and more work got automated. And the dream deteriorated. And health care destroyed people’s savings and the banks took more interest and made more loans to people to buy houses and the Fed kept the interest rates low so it could make and loan more money and it all came tumbling down. And so people lost jobs and self-respect. And, the schools deteriorated and you wonder: ‘why, all of a sudden, do kids need to join gangs in order to define their existence’?

And, why was it that your budgets kept getting skewed towards building offices and roads in the suburbs rather than investing in schools. Let the neighborhoods deteriorate so people will move and then we can give contracts to private companies for the schools. The private model always wins because they got the money to use to pay off everyone. So, ‘let’s clean up the blight and we be all right’.

Just as long as you know there won’t be an USA without a Chicago.

The original OP-ED by Chicago Sun Times can viewed in its entirety here.