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Chicago Public Schools denies Arie Payo test question is based on Joe Arpaio

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A Chicago achievement test with questions about illegal immigration included a character named Arie Payo. Quite incredibly, Chicago Public School officials deny that the character is based on controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, according to an Inquisitr report on Friday. Yet, the questions being labeled as politically biased and incendiary have been taken off the test.

Seventh grade students in Chicago’s public schools – the third largest school district in the nation – were given an anti-immigration commentary. The narrative in the test was given by a fictitious character, Arie Payo, who was supposed to be a George Bush administration official and conservative writer. Naturally, the name of the fictional character resembles the last name of Sheriff Joe Arpaio a great deal.

The online REACH performance test questions, created by a group of Chicago Public School librarians and teachers, was about illegal immigration. The test was designed to gauge both student and teacher effectiveness. In this portion of the test’s questioning, students were to compare and contrast the authority of differing options on the topic of immigration. The question that was asked by Arie Payo reads:

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.

After the story about the test question became public, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said that the character in the question, Arie Payo, sounds his name. He asked why the makers of the questions didn’t have the guts to use his real name. He went on to say that illegal immigration is such a complex issue that even President Obama doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Arpaio said, “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.”

Sheriff Arpaio said that if they want the real Joe Arpaio, they can just give him a call. He asserts that he’d be glad to talk to the kids in Chicago. Arpaio began his career in law enforcement as a federal narcotics agent in Chicago.

As Bob Dane, a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, stated, the test-makers either had Arpaio in mind when they wrote those questions or it is the world’s greatest coincidence. He continued that it is 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. It’s the antithesis of what kids ought to be taught, he said. A representative from the American Civil Liberties Union also said that the Chicago illegal immigrants’ question was fairly misguided.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett commented on the controversy as well, according to Fox News. She said that teaching children the importance of diversity, acceptance and independent thinking are important values. She apologized for any misunderstanding and said that librarians have been issued an alternative test to administer to Chicago students.

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