clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Test question, labels show educators need lesson in sensitivity

For children, teens and young adults who struggle with instability at home, school can be a wonderful escape.

Students can get lost in a wide range of topics, from English literature to a study hall gossip hour.

For undocumented students, school can be a haven from the unpredictability of their family’s home life. They move freely, unencumbered by the restrictions and fears that otherwise paralyze their families.

Emotionally, school is a safe place until a painful reminder, maybe a slur by a classmate or an insensitive remark by a teacher, hits like a punch in the gut.

That’s how a recent Chicago Public Schools test question for seventh-graders came off.

Students were asked to analyze viewpoints from two fictitious writers — both opposing U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants and playing on stereotypes — and decide which was the most authoritative and relevant to support an argument against a path to citizenship, detailed in a report by WBEZ-91.5.

The WBEZ report noted that one school refused to administer the test and CPS came up with an optional alternate question unrelated to immigration.

Earlier in the school year, CPS gave a test question it considered pro-immigration, but one that by spring probably was forgotten by students who could understandably be offended by the second round of viewpoints.

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett apologized in a statement and said the test question “was intended for students to evaluate the biases, credibility and point of view of sources.”

No harm intended, but the question was nonetheless callous. It might have been less so if students had a choice between favoring eventual citizenship for immigrants or opting against it.