Chicago’s Racist Test Questions

9 May

ImageI have seen a lot in the news today about Los Angeles.   There, a test question asking 8th grade students to determine whether the Holocaust actually happened or was created for political gain drew well deserved outrage.

Lesser know is that Chicago has its own racist and xenophobic test this year.  This test was removed from the knowledge center today, but as far as I know has not been pulled from unsuspecting elementary school classrooms where teachers will be giving the test to many immigrant children.  The assessment asks students to identify the best argument between two on opposing the path to citizenship.

Argument one is from Arie Payo who used to work for the Bush administration and now writes for the Conservative Journal.  His argument is “I think it is best to keep America for Americans and those who know how to speak English properly.  Save America for those of us who know how to behave in law abiding ways.”

Argument two is from a small business owner named Stella Luna who worries that “giving citizenship to undocumented immigrants would increase the number of poor people living in our town.”

Students not only have to decide who is the authority, but explain the author’s viewpoint and what in their background brings them to this conclusion.  In a nutshell, many immigrant children are being asked to explain why they are ruining America with their law breaking ways.

It gets worse, though.  I decided to Google “Stella Luna”, “Arie Payo”, and “Conservative Journal”.   None of them actually exist.  They were totally created by the test creators who could created any topic, but chose one that would be insulting and damaging to many CPS students.  The offensive and xenophobic questions were actually written by the test creators and not some right wing journal.

Actually, if I was a Republican I might be upset too.  At a time, when they are trying to reach out to voters, these vile statements are being attributed to a member of the Bush administration.    CPS has taken steps to cover this up, but what they haven’t done is to recall the tests.  Students across the city are in the process of taking it.

Surely, even very sensitive topics can be addressed by a teacher who provides context.  However, an examination is not the place to provide context, especially one where the teacher must read from a script.  Do the right thing CPS and pull this test.

13 Responses to “Chicago’s Racist Test Questions”

  1. Mmm May 9, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    Sweet. I can’t wait for the racial tensions to amp up. The other best part will be the conversation we get to not have in class about immigration because we’re testing so often.

  2. EldonHughes May 9, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    In what test does this question appear? Is this just within CPS, or is it part of PARCC? Not to be too much of a jerk, but I’d like some verification that this is a real thing before people take up pitchforks and start lighting torches.

    • cps299 May 9, 2014 at 3:34 am #

      It is part of CPS’s REACH assessment and somebody has posted the actual test on Facebook. I do not want to post the test because I don’t think I can legally. However, the test is out there and I expect it will make it’s way around the internet very soon.

  3. Dienne May 9, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    I was suspicious about those names as soon as I read “Stella Luna”. That’s the name of a children’s book (not the author, the title):

  4. Lisa May 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Stellaluna does so exist.

    • cps299 May 10, 2014 at 2:15 am #

      The names are very common, but if you like online, you can’t find her or the person who matches her picture.

  5. Dr. A. J. M. Alger May 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    How is the question racist? The test doesn’t mention a particular ethnic group? Undocumented immigrants come from all over the world, unless you believe it only refers to one group of people. Beyond that, I don’t believe illegal immigrants should be in public schools anyway. Whether you call them undocumented, illegal, or just an immigrant doesn’t matter.

    • cps299 May 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      The fact that the test uses an old KKK slogan of “America for Americans” and also says implies very clearly that immigrants (not just undocumented immigrants mind you) are a blight on the community who are incapable of behaving in law abiding ways is vile and if it’s not racist, I don’t know what is.

  6. Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene May 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Welcome to the age of core knowledge® where members of the “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” like David Coleman and E. D. Hirsch, Jr. pass off questions such as:

    ‘Which of these jingoistic, bigoted, racist, nativist essayists is more “authoritative”?’

    as a smarter, balanced way of encouraging “critical” thinking skills.


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