An e-mail sent from a high-ranking official in the Rochester Central School District has rattled some teachers who believe they are being bullied for possibly having encouraged students and parents to opt out of the Common Core state exams.
The e-mail, sent from Beverly Burrell-Moore to principals in the school district, demanding that they “identify teachers who have sent letters or made phone calls to parents encouraging them to opt out their children from the NYS Assessments.”
The district official also asks principals to “identify teachers who you have evidence as utilizing their classrooms as ‘political soap boxes.'”
Burrell-Moore is listed as the district’s Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning.
The head of the teacher’s union in Rochester said they were “appalled” by the letter and claimed it was “an infringement on the academic freedom and the constitutional rights of teachers.”
The letter clearly hints that some form of punishment could be the result of the finger-pointing, as the information is necessary for “follow up.”
“I was appalled,” the union head told WHEC. “The tone and content of this letter — saying we want names so we can follow up.”
Dotti Kern-Warner, an opponent of the Common Core testing, responded to news of the intimidating letter by asking, “Is this still the United Stated of America, the land of the Free?”
She added, “Where have our freedoms gone when school districts stoop this low?”
Rochester Superintendent Bolgen Vargas released a statement in which he contradicts himself regarding the letter sent out to principals. In one sentence, Vargas claims that the “District would be required to address” any teachers who may have encouraged students to refuse the test. He then immediately followed that up with, “No actions will be taken against any teacher or administrator.”
Then why ask principals to snitch?
The Rochester school district did not release numbers on how many students chose to opt out of Common Core testing as most schools already have. However, the Rochester Teachers Association reported that about 80 percent of students at one Rochester school – the World of Inquiry School 58 – refused the test.
The entire e-mail can be seen below …