Illegal Immigrants: Chicago Test Questions Yanked After Political Bias Backlash

Illegal immigrant questions on a Chicago achievement test were yanked after being deemed politically biased and “incendiary.”

Seventh grade students at one of the largest school districts in the country were read “anti-immigration commentary” posed by a fictitious George Bush administration official and a conservative writer with a fake name that closely resembled that of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The questions about illegal immigration were part of an online REACH performance test given to students to gauge both student and teacher effectiveness. The test asked students to compare and contrast the “authority of differing opinions” on immigration. One of the questions were written by a faux conservative writer named Arie Payo.

The question asked by Arie Payo read:

“I think it’s best to keep America for Americans and those who know how to speak English properly. Save America for those of us who know how to behave in law-abiding ways.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio seemed to take what appears to many a reference him, in stride:

“Sounds like my name. Why didn’t they have the guts to use my real name? It’s [illegal immigration] is such a complex issue that even the president doesn’t know what he’s talking about. So, what’s this question about? Is it politics? Is it propaganda? I don’t know, but there’s so many other good programs to talk about with the kids. This is interesting. If they want the real Joe Arpaio, they can give me a call. I’d be glad to talk to the kids.”

Sheriff Arpaio started his law enforcement career as a federal narcotics agent in the Windy City. Chicago Public Schools representative Joel Hood said the questions about illegal immigrants had “been scrubbed” from the REACH performance test’s database and the librarians who draft the tests were given new material to present to students. Hood also denied that the fictional Arie Payo character was created with the Maricopa County Sheriff in mind.

Federation for American Immigration Reform agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio about the illegal immigration questions being politically motivated. Bob Dane, a spokesman for the group said:

“They either had him [Arpaio] in mind, or it’s the world’s greatest coincidence. It’s an incendiary and politically charged way to frame a question about a subject that students should consider in a balanced way with a historical perspective. This is the antithesis of what kids ought to be taught. It’s biggest sin is interjecting a deliberately partisan perspective on immigration. We need a bipartisan approach and we’ll never get there like this.”

An American Civil Liberties Union representative also noted that the Chicago illegal immigrants test question was “fairly misguided.”

Edwin Yohnka also said, “There are a number of voices on the subject that could have been considered without reaching these extreme arguments.”

How do you feel about the illegal immigration question on the Chicago test and the way students should be taught on the subject?

[Image Via: Christopher Halloran/]