Will District Slap Anti-Testing Teachers?

Feltonville educators say they’ve been called to an “investigatory conference” on Thursday.

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Teachers at a Philadelphia school say they face discipline from the school district for helping parents opt their children out of standardized tests.

Kelley Collings, a teacher at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences, said Monday she is one of a half-dozen teachers called to an “investigatory conference” on the matter, scheduled for Thursday. Collings is also on the steering committee of the Caucus of Working Educators, which helped organize the effort to help students and their families opt out of the tests.

The nature of the accusation against the teachers is unclear, Collings said, but she said the district is attempting to “instill fear” in educators who resist the testing regime. “I’ve never been written up, and I’ve been doing this 15 years,” she said.

Officials at the Philadelphia School District did not respond to inquiries on the topic.

News of the apparent effort at discipline comes after City Paper reported that 17 percent of the school’s students had opted out of the tests. City Council members Jannie Blackwell, Mark Squilla, and María Quiñones-Sánchez later issued a statement supporting that effort.

“That’s terrible,” Blackwell said Monday when told that teachers might be facing discipline. “I’m going to check on that.”

A spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers declined comment.

District officials had previously criticized the opt-out movement. “If we have an activist teacher in the school trying to get parents to sign this, that’s very troublesome,” district spokesman Fernando Gallard told City Paper. “On the face of it, it would just be highly unusual and, I would say, inappropriate.”

Collings said the teachers aren’t backing down. “Parents have a right to know their rights.”

“It’s been building,” she said. “We’re just the first school to step out on the ledge with such a large number of parents opting out.”

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