Emails back and forth among high-ranking Arizona Department of Education officials show that state officials intimidated a Tucson fifth-grade teacher and, in one instance, called him “a f*cktard” because he criticized the state’s implementation of Common Core.
The emails are now public because of a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Arizona Daily Independent.
The teacher, Brad McQueen, originally raise the ire of state education officials in February when he penned an anti-Common Core op-ed in the Independent (that later went viral locally).
McQueen, a 10-year teaching veteran, had worked on the state’s Common Core-aligned standardized tests. In the op-ed, he criticized Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and state education bureaucrats for, among much else, “willingly handed over control” of educational standards in exchange for increased federal funding.
That’s when the fun started.
Kathy Hrabluk, associate superintendent at the Arizona Department of Education, sent out an email griping about McQueen’s criticisms. “Just thought you might want to check your list of teacher teams (from which teachers are selected to work on tests at the Dept of Education),” she wrote. “He is one unhappy camper.”
Next, deputy associate superintendent for assessment Irene Hunting seemed to suggest that state administrators had blackballed McQueen from working on any state tests because of his opposition to the state’s implementation of Common Core. “We have made a note in his record,” she wrote, according to the Independent.
In a follow-up email, Sarah Gardner, a high-level standardized testing director, appeared to indicate that Arizona’s taxpayer-funded state education officials would, in fact, conspire to prevent McQueen from further contributions to the state’s standardized tests.
“Given that Brad McQueen gave a negative statement to the press about Common Core and assessment, you may want to remove him from the invitation list,” Gardner wrote. “Let’s make sure he is not going to Denver later this month. Please remove Brad McQueen from the list.”
Another email came from Angela Escobar, a program project specialist. Escobar must have been listening to talk radio instead of doing her job because the title of her email reads: “Brad McQueen is on the radio.”
The complete text of Escobar’s email is “What a f*cktard,” according to the Independent. Escobar did use an asterisk in the word. Presumably, the word the taxpayer-funded official using taxpayer-funded email intended to communicate is “fucktard.”
Next, Gardner, the testing director, decided to call McQueen to intimidate him. She called him in his classroom during the school day, the teacher says.
“Sarah Gardner started to grill me about my ‘problems’ with the Common Core and proceeded to ask me if I was implementing the standards in my instruction,” McQueen said. “I felt like a trap was being set in an attempt to get me terminated from my teaching position. I eventually ended the call as my class was entering the room returning from recess. Needless to say, I was quite shaken.”
In a later email, Gardner told her colleagues that she had spoken with McQueen. “I did speak with Brad. I can fill you in on the conversation. I thought I already had.”
A subsequent email from Arizona Department of Education bureaucrat Stacy Morley lamented that, despite the efforts of state officials, McQueen “does not seem to be going away.”
In still other emails, associate superintendent Leila Williams, hired public relations gun Christie Silverstein and a host of others discuss how they worked with an unidentified Arizona teacher to create and massage a reply op-ed in an effort to make it appear that Common Core enjoys widespread support among teachers.
McQueen has written a book about his travails, “The Cult of Common Core.”
Meanwhile, state education bureaucrats appear to be flatly losing the Common Core battle.
In May, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced that the state is pulling out of a multi-state consortium that is designing a national test that applies new Common Core education standards. (RELATED: Arizona Ditches Common Core Testing Consortium)
In October, John Huppenthal, Arizona’s public schools superintendent of Arizona’s public schools, announced a bizarre plan to change the name “Common Core” to “Arizona College and Career Ready Standards” without changing anything remotely substantive about the state’s implementation of Common Core. (RELATED: Crafty! Arizona Unveils Plan To Fool Parents By Changing Common Core Name, Nothing Else)
More recently, Huppenthal, a Republican, has seen his reputation severely damaged. Last week, he admitted that he has been posting pseudonymously and controversially on a number of political blogs on topics ranging from Darwin to Hitler. Then, he left a press conference he had organized about his shenanigans in tears. (RELATED: Arizona Schools Boss Wants Spanish Media Ban, Cries At Own Press Conference)