Illinois Seeks Move on from Common Core, No Child Left Behind

Illinois is in the midst of opposing federal education standards by which it has functioned and that it even had recently adopted. Common Core is being rejected and opposed by the Chicago Teachers' Union and the Illinois State Board of Education is now rejecting the 2001 "No Child Left Behind" laws that were enacted under President George W. Bush.

The Chicago Teachers' Union House of Delegates has written a recommendation letter that rejects the Common Core State Standards in testing and instruction. The union has decided to request that the Illinois Board of Education look into reversing use of the Core. The Chicago Teachers' Union will also implore the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which is its parent union, to look into the Core standards it at its meeting that will soon be held, reports Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post.

Ironically, AFT President Randi Weingarten long has been a proponent of the Common Core standards. However, Weingarten has suggested that revisions need to be implemented for the early childhood Core standards.

She deems them developmentally inappropriate and has condemned the use of the early childhood section of the program, writes Strauss. She also asked for a stall in the implementation of the new Core-aligned student standardized exams as part of the way that teachers are evaluated.

Part of the problem, though, is that, over the last several years, the AFT has received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation in funding to assist the implementation of the Core. The AFT will no longer accept Gates money for its Innovation Fund, AFT president Weingarten said in a statement. This announcement came after the growth of criticism of the Core's standards. Chicago union President Karen Lewis is quoted by Alex Newman of The New American as saying:

"I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy. Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration. We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America's schools."

In another break from federal government educational standards, Illinois was recently permitted to do away with the unpopular standards of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The key idea that 100% of pupils must pass statewide tests will be eliminated, writes Diane Rado for The Chicago Tribune News. Latinos and blacks, low-income children and other groups now have lower targets than whites for passing statewide tests and will no longer be held to the same standards as whites.

According to an analysis of state and federal records, 85% of white third through eighth-grade students statewide are expected to pass statewide exams by 2019. This is in comparison to about 73% of Latinos and 70% of African American students. Civil rights activists claim that this will just hide the very real problem of minorities and low-income students getting a lower grade education that their white counterparts.

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