Chicago students boycott standardized test in protest of mass school closings

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Charles Rex Arbogast

Dozens of Chicago students boycotted a required standardized test on Wednesday in protest of high stakes testing and the city’s plans to close 54 schools as part of deficit reduction measures. The walkout is the latest in a series of community and union protests of the March 21 announcement.

Students rallied at the Board of Education headquarters after walking out of school Wednesday morning. The protest was organized by two groups of students, Voices of Youth, and Chicago Students Organizing to Save our Schools, which have been active at prior rallies and marches.

Students active in the protests Wednesday alleged that teachers threatened them with retaliation if they participated in the boycott. According to one student, a teacher said that students who did not take the Prairie State Achievement exam today would have their ACT scores voided.

“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,” said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chicago Public Schools CEO, in response to the boycott.

The student protests come on the same day that hundreds of the city’s service industry employees went on strike for higher wages, with some students joining the service workers as they rallied.