A rally is taking place this afternoon in support of teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, who are boycotting the standardised ISAT test next week. The teachers have been threatened by the school board that they risk dismissal and the withdrawal of their licence to teach if they go ahead.

The teachers voted unanimously to boycott the tests, in response to a 65% opt out by parents at the school. Instead of wasting time and money (the testing materials cost large amounts of money) they intend to teach 'real classes'.

In a statement the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) said:  Should these courageous educators face disciplinary charges by the district, CTU vowed to mount a strong defense of this collective action. Saucedo’s action stance against the ISAT could spark a teacher and parent-led movement to “opt-out” throughout the Chicago Public Schools system.

The campaign to boycott the tests has been organised by parent groups like More Than A Score and the Caucus of Radical Educators in the CTU amongst others. It is gaining popularity day by day throughout the public schools in Chicago, including gifted and magnet schools. Only the semi-privatised charter schools are not taking part.

It is a campaign which is spreading throughout the United States. Last year in Seattle the Garfield High School test boycott resulted in the dropping of the tests. School students too have been involved in many states in the fight against standardised testing.

Education corporations like Pearson and Rupert Murdoch's Amplify stand to make millions of dollars out of the increase in standardised testing and the so-called common core curriculum, as policy makers, influenced by the same corporations, rush to buy their wares. But it is not only a revulsion at turning public school children into cash cows for corporations which is driving the boycott campaign. The educational injustice of reducing children to a statistic on a spreadsheet and reducing teaching and learning to a bubble sheet is also causing the resistance. The cruelty of the system is shown in its most extreme form, where, as in Florida, children with multiple disabilities are also being forced to take the time-consuming and stressful tests.

CTU leader Karen Lewis has pointed out that the genesis of standardised testing was in eugenics and the now discredited IQ testing system. She says:

Ask yourselves whether you want to be part of a legacy born of the unholy alliance between the concept of  “natural inequality” and the drudgery that has been imposed on many of our classrooms. Do your own research and let’s start to have the discussions on what is fair, equitable and good for our children.