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Ariz. Department of Education Retaliates Against Tucson Teacher Opposed to Common Core

December 12, 2014

Phoenix (12/2/2014)—Today the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Tucson, Ariz. teacher Brad McQueen, who was retaliated against by employees of the Arizona Department of Education for speaking out against the Common Core State Standards.

For years, Mr. McQueen was paid to serve on several committees of teachers who advised the state department of education on issues related to standardized testing. When he spoke out against the Common Core and its accompanying standardized test earlier this year in a newspaper article, he was removed from the committees (even those that had nothing to do with the Common Core), notes were made in his file at the department that could impact future employment opportunities, and he was disparaged in official department emails.

“The First Amendment guarantees that all Americans have the right to speak out on important issues of the day without fear of being persecuted,” said Kurt Altman, a senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute. “When you exercise your rights and find your livelihood and reputation are threatened, especially by the government, that sends a message to everyone around you to keep their mouths shut.”

The Goldwater Institute lawsuit claims that Mr. McQueen’s First Amendment rights have been violated and seeks to have him reinstated to the committees unrelated to the Common Core and to have his record cleared of information about his opposition to the Common Core.

“Teachers are on the front lines implementing the school policies adopted by the government. It is critical that their ability to speak out publicly about those policies is protected,” said Altman. “No teacher should have to worry about losing his job or being forced out of other professional roles because he disagrees with a policy. We should be doing the opposite; we should encourage teachers to tell us what is and is not working in the classroom as policies are being developed and implemented.”

“The more I learned about the Common Core, the more concerned I became,” said Brad McQueen. “But I had no idea that voicing my opinion on my own time and as a private citizen would cause me to be targeted by the Department. I was shocked.” Mr. McQueen has been a teacher for 11 years and currently teaches fifth grade in Tucson, Arizona.

The lawsuit, McQueen v. Huppenthal, was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court.

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