I 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.