This past summer, a New York State Assemblyman blasted state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia for launching a “goon squad” to intimidate teachers who discuss Common Core opt out choices with parents.
That goon squad now seems to be focused in New York City, where teachers are being threatened if they talk to parents about options to remove their child from the controversial testing.
Despite state officials assuring parents that things are going to change with the Common Core curriculum, New York City’s Education Department is sending a very different message.
Via the New York Times:
But in New York City, the Education Department seems to be sending a different message to some teachers and principals: Watch what you say.
At a forum in December, Anita Skop, the superintendent of District 15 in Brooklyn, which had the highest rate of test refusals in the city last year, said that for an educator to encourage opting out was a political act and that public employees were barred from using their positions to make political statements.
Another school in Tribeca had sent a letter to parents saying that the Common Core testing hurt “every single class of students across the school” because of the resources they consumed.
Less than two weeks later, the teachers at that school were nowhere to be found at a meeting to discuss the testing. The “union had informed them that their email could be considered insubordination.”
In place of the teachers, an Education Department official showed up to “help oversee (the) meeting.”
Threats abound elsewhere according to the Times:
Several principals said they had been told by either the schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, or their superintendents that they and their teachers should not encourage opting out. There were no specific consequences mentioned, but the warnings were enough to deter some educators.
Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said that teachers were free to express themselves on matters of public concern as private citizens, but not as representatives of the department, and that if they crossed that line they could be disciplined. Asked what the disciplinary measures might be, Ms. Kaye said they were determined case by case.
This past summer, Elia garnered significant heat for repeatedly insinuating that parents who are opting their children out of Common Core testing simply don’t understand what’s good for them or their children.
She also threatened them, teachers, and schools with legal action.
“There are ramifications that can occur,” she warned. “I’m not saying what will occur, I’m just saying there are.”
A week earlier, Elia expanded on that threat, demanding “Listen, it’s the law.”
To enforce that law, she assembled a ‘tool kit’ to force parents to understand that she knows what’s best for their children. That ‘tool kit’ included a legal team to help school districts re-educate teachers and parents on the Common Core curriculum.
Goon squad indeed.
A staggering 20% of students in New York opted out of Common Core testing this past year, a clear sign that parents do indeed know that the arbitrary standardized testing is not what’s best for their children.