A level-5 teacher went to an elected official and had the door slammed shut on her by the top education bureaucrat in the state. Why? I can only imagine the fear that must have struck in her. It is no wonder teachers are so disenfranchised. Because of this behavior, parents and teachers now believe the Department of Education has something to hide. I can’t blame them when just last year thousands of report cards never showed up for Tennessee students because former Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman withheld TCAP scores, which violated state law, in an effort to inflate grades because Common Core was causing scores to tank. Shortly after it was reported to state legislators that Huffman was withholding these scores, multiple legislators including myself formally called for the resignation Huffman. Months later, Huffman resigned. To date, no one has been held accountable for the cover-up.
I think the most unfortunate thing here is that unelected bureaucrats are stepping in to tell the state’s best trained teachers that they cannot reach out to their elected officials; and if they have a problem, then they need to discuss it privately. The First Amendment speaks clearly about the innate right for citizens to “petition the government for a redress of grievances”.
After word got out to the media that the commissioner had moved to block my visit, she put out a statement for the media. Her statement effectively called for teachers to go directly to the Department of Education if they had an issue with standards and to discuss it privately rather than going to their elected officials. Teachers have been put through the ringer by this department. They have a right to address their grievances with those they elected, not a bunch of bureaucrats that won’t get anything done. What’s more, do you really think teachers feel comfortable going to the same Department of Education they just witnessed step on the toes of an elected official answering the request of a level-5 teacher? I wouldn’t.
As promised, I showed up anyway. I wasn’t allowed to test, but after applying some pressure, I was offered the ability to take a practice test at the county board of education. I want to make something very clear here. I do not want to take the test in a sterilized environment. A level-5 teacher invited me to take the exam in her classroom to get the full experience and receive feedback from students. That was the point, not to take the exam in a sterilized environment where the department can control what I can and cannot see.
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This will not end well for the bureaucrats.
McQueen takes it upon herself to try and threaten an elected legislator from doing something as simple as taking a eighth grade test, and by so doing she elevates the issue while lowering the opinion of taxpayers who are getting pretty damn tired of bureaucrats on the public dole telling us we can’t see what our money is paying for.
And the second moron of this little drama: Obion County school superintendent Russ Davis (more on this fool in later postings). Davis didn’t even try to be diplomatic — he called just minutes after Commissioner McQueen’s not-so-veiled threat to Rep. Holt and rudely and obnoxiously tells him he does not have permission to go to the school.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THESE PEOPLE?