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Chicago’s superintendent of schools Barbara Byrd-Bennett wanted to delay PARCC testing. She knew the students and teachers were not ready. She proposed testing only 10% of students. The state of Illinois said it would lose $1.1 billion in federal funding if Chicago failed to participate.
Last week, Secretary Duncan was in Chicago. When asked why he threatened to cut off federal funding, he denied it.
When he arrived at a school, his driver took a wrong turn, and Duncan got out of the car and was swarmed by angry parents protesting the testing.
“Once safely inside the school, Duncan was asked about the protest outside.
“Why is his U.S. Department of Education forcing a controversial standardized test — one many parents don’t want and that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has argued is “not ready” for prime time — down the throats Chicago Public Schools?
“I’m not,” Duncan said. “The state works it out without Chicago. . . . That’s the state’s decision.”
“But isn’t the mandate being dictated by the federal government? Isn’t that what’s behind the threat to withhold $1 billion in funding that forced Chicago’s hand?
“No. You’re wrong. . . . You’re making stuff up. You don’t have your facts straight,” Duncan said.
“The secretary was asked about the parental animosity stemming from the PARCC test and the resulting protest that forced him to go through the gantlet of protesters to get into Ariel Community Academy, 1119 E. 46th Street.
““I welcome the conversation. It’s good. . . . It’s a healthy conversation to have,” he said.
“But he said, “It’s important to assess kids annually. . . . Millions of kids around the country are taking the test. We’re fine.”
“With that, a press aide to Duncan stepped in and ended the interview.”