Arizona Teacher Critical of Common Core Punished, Files Lawsuit

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A lawsuit has been filed against Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of Tucson, Arizona teacher Brad McQueen, who claims to have been punished by employees of the Arizona Department of Education for speaking out against Common Core standards.

McQueen had been paid to serve on a number of committees of teachers who shared their opinions on standardized testing with the state department of education.  However, after speaking out against the Common Core standards in a newspaper article earlier this year, he was removed from all of the committees he had been a part of even if they had nothing to do with the standards.  In addition, notes were placed in his permanent file which could affect his future employment, and he was the victim of belittling in several 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 lawsuit argues that the retaliation was a violation of McQueen’s first amendment rights.  It also asks to have McQueen put back on each of the committees he was taken off of and to clear his record of any comments concerning his views on the Common Core standards.  He would also like a legal declaration made by Huppenthal that states his rights to free speech were violated.

The Arizona Department of Education has publicly responded to the lawsuit by saying, “The Department does not comment on lawsuits.”

McQueen is the author of the book “The Cult of the Common Core.” He has previously spoken out against the standards in a February 26 podcast on a Tucson radio station as well as a February 27 article in the Arizona Capitol Times.

“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.”

The standards are the basis of the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, which were adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010.

McQueen has been a teacher for 11 years.  He currently teaches 5th grade in Tucson, Arizona.