Department of Education Harasses Teachers Over Common Core Testing

Common Core Fails, but Education Department Tries to Silence Critics

This month we are in the middle of what the Department of Education educrats have labelled as “Testing Season.” That’s right. It’s not duck season, it’s not rabbit season, it’s Testing Season. As hundreds of thousands of students opt out of Common Core testing, teachers are weighing the professional risks of speaking out against this testing. Instead of fixing the problems with Common Core and its myriad of regulations, Education Department bureaucrats have resorted to shooting the messengers – our nation’s teachers. Perhaps Testing Season should be renamed Hunting Season.

The opt-out movement is gaining momentum. In 2015, over 200,000 students elected to opt out of Common Core standardized tests. This year’s numbers will be higher, and teachers are more vocal than ever in speaking out against Common Core and advising parents to opt out. These opinions are expressed despite threats coming in the form of bullying from the Department of Education.

Under pressure from the Education Department, some New York City schools have issued internal memos warning teachers that they do not have the right to speak out against the test, including a threat that the teachers could be subject to insubordination charges. One third-grade teacher from Brooklyn, when asked whether students should opt out, stated:

“Out of concern over my position in the public school system, I don’t feel at liberty to say whether you should.” — Kristen Taylor, third grade teacher

In other places, teachers are allowed to an express an opinion on the tests as an individual citizens and but not as educators. This policy presents an obvious dilemma as teachers ordinarily speak to students and parents as educators. The policy, much like the Common Core curriculum, is convoluted, murky, and unfair:

The opt out movement is yet another indication that Common Core and the Education Department’s implementation of it has failed. Not only has Common Core failed academically, it has failed operationally. And it’s a pretty expensive failure as Common Core has already cost the nation an estimated $80 billion. Education Department bureaucrats need a scapegoat, and they are blaming everything except Common Core and the Department’s myriad regulations. Instead, they are blaming teachers and parents:

“Pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.” — Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education

The Department of Education portrays parents as ignorant and self-serving. The truth is that parents and teachers alike understand that Common Core testing has done more harm than good for their children. If it were otherwise, hundreds of thousands of parents would not be opting out.

Curt Levey, Executive Director of FreedomWorks Foundation and its Regulatory Action Center, noted that:

“What the Education Department is doing to teachers and parents is typical of what’s wrong with the federal regulatory state. Unaccountable bureaucrats write rules that show a lack of understanding of the people they’re regulating. When those people complain, the bureaucrats react not by trying to fix the problems their rules have caused, but by harassing and punishing those who point out the problems.”