On a day they were slated to take a state-required test that directly affects their graduation eligibility, around 100 Chicago Public School students boycotted exams to protest the district's plan to close 54 schools.
Six busloads of students — paid for by community groups, according to CBS Chicago — were picked up at their respective high schools and dropped off at CPS' downtown headquarters Wednesday.
"CSOSOS [Chicago Students Organizing To Save Our Schools] has organized this boycott to show [Mayor Rahm Emanuel] and the CPS school board that we are over-tested, under-resourced and fed up," Paul Robeson High School student Brian Stirgus told NBC Chicago.
While students and some of their parents took to South Clark Street to protest, one student told CBS pupils were being intimidated by their teachers. “At our school, teachers said our ACT [college entrance exam] would get voided if we didn’t take the test today,” said Gage Park junior Julio Contreras.
Meanwhile, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett released a statement Wednesday reading:
"The only place students should be during the school day is in the classroom with their teachers getting the education they need to be successful in life. Today's test is one of the most critical exams our students will take. Every adult should support and encourage our students to make sure they are in school."
Students planned to deliver a letter to the school board demanding a moratorium on the school closings. The Chicago Teachers Union has also called for a moratorium, lawmakers from the state's Black and Latino Caucuses have made their own as-yet-ignored push to avoid the closings.
According to the Sun-Times, black and Latino students are those who will be hardest hit if the school board approves the June closures.
School closures weren't the only thing students were protesting, as many argued CPS students are over-tested and that the results are unfairly weighted in school closing decisions.
According to WBEZ, CPS uses a "complicated formula" to judge performance, but "more than half of the possible points are based on parts of the Prairie State Achievement Exam."
While Wednesday marks the second day of the PSAE exam, a make-up day is scheduled for May 8. Stirgus told DNAinfo Chicago, "Every student who's a junior who decided to participate in this boycott will be granted the opportunity to take this test over. These students have nothing to lose today."