Random Thoughts. Now that we have ESSA, can IEA support opt-out?


Teacher union leaders and some other school folks are telling me how happy I should be now that Congress has passed and the President has signed the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, newly branded as Every Child Succeeds Act.

I’m just not feeling it.

Yet is does present an opportunity for the Illinois Education Association to get on the right side of parental opt-out rights.

This morning’s Sun-Times reports that more than 10% of CPS students opted out of PARCC.

Many of the highest opt-out rates happened at North Side schools, but all parts of the city had schools with a 50 percent or lower participation rate in the lengthy, in-depth PARCC test that seeks to measure critical thinking.

Statewide, less than 5 percent of students didn’t test, far below states like New York that strongly opposed PARCC.

Of Chicago’s 23 schools with less than half their students taking PARCC, 14 of them were high schools.

In fact, some of the lowest rates were at four selective enrollment high schools, which require competitive testing to get in. Lindbloom Math and Science Academy High School tested just 8.5 percent of eligible students in English — the lowest citywide. Northside College Prep tested 17 percent, Lane Tech High School 22 percent and Whitney Young Magnet High School about 39 percent, according to data released this week by the Illinois State Board of Education.

When I and other IEA members tried to get the IEA to support Representative Will Guzzardi’s opt-out bill earlier this year, the leadership refused, claiming it would result in the loss of funds if Illinois students failed to reach the 95% participation rate.

That threat was never real. States with larger opt-out movements than Illinois never lost federal funding.

If, as they claim, ESSA has put an end to No Child Left Behind, that funding threat is gone and IEA is now free to side with parents.

One Reply to “Random Thoughts. Now that we have ESSA, can IEA support opt-out?”

  1. Peter Greene, on Diane Ravitch’s blog stated: “The struggle is not over. It has just shifted venue. Get ready for the next rounds of debate– all fifty of them.”
    Indiana is a state that worships vouchers and charters. Public schools are terribly underfunded. Our government is totally run by conservative Republicans and we have a Tea Party Governor. (Cutting funding for public schools occurs …too bad.)

    I was talking recently with an art teacher who works in a poverty level school. He hasn’t had a pay increase in 8 years. Poor students don’t do well enough on standardized tests to warrant teacher raises.

    Disgusting that this is happening. It is hard to wage a decent battle in Indiana when the political chips are against teachers.

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