Common Core is generating a lot of concerns around the country, and teacher input without fear of retaliation is essential.

The reality is, however, that teachers critical of Common Core may be intimidated by school district and state officials into silence.

That is what a teacher is alleging in a lawsuit (full Complaint here) filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against the Arizona Superintendent of Education, as described by The Goldwater Institute press release:

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….

“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 key allegations of the Complaint are that there was a chain of retaliation after media appearances by the teacher in which he criticized Common Core and the Partnership for
Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) test.:

21. On February 22, 2014, the Arizona Daily Independent published an article written by Plaintiff entitled “SB 1310: Arizonans must reclaim sovereignty over our children’s education.”

22. Plaintiffs article discusses concerns about the new PARCC test and the Common Core learning standards being implemented at that time.

23. On February 26, 2014, Plaintiff participated in a podcast on Tucson’s 104.1 KQTH radio station and spoke to his experience of getting a·’ … sick feeling about this Common Core thing . . . “and topics such as the new Statewide Longitudinal Data System’s propensity ·’ .. . to suction all manner of information about our kids and our teachers out of the classroom and into this Common Core machine.”

The Complaint alleges violation of First Amendment Rights under the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions.

The article referenced is the Complaint is here.

McQueen has written about the alleged retaliation, including that he was called a “f*cktard” for speaking out.

The Arizona Department of Education responded to my inquiry about the lawsuit by saying “The Department does not comment on lawsuits.”

He also is the author of a book, The Cult of Common Core.

Here is a appearance by the plaintiff in which he describes his views: