October 9, 2014
ALBANY, NY – State teachers union NYSUT has filed a lawsuit in federal court, to undo what NYSUT calls a “gag order” on teachers. NYSUT says they want to put a stop to teachers having to sign the confidentiality agreement that is preventing teachers from speaking at all about the Common Core tests. NYSUT says the lawsuit charges the education department’s rules to unconstitutionally make teachers’ speech conditional on government approval, while establishing a system to police teachers who are talking about common core.
On page 5 of the NYSUT lawsuit, it says quote: “In 2014, for the first time, teachers who proctor and administer the State ELA and Mathematics exams were prohibited from reading the exams. The only teachers permitted access to the content of the exams in 2014 were those teachers, like plaintiffs, who were directly involved in the scoring process (could know the answers).
One local teacher who asked to remain unnamed, says that teachers cannot even tell students what is going to be on the test, and that teachers cannot use the results of the test to help future students do better. That same local teacher says that school administrators can punish teachers by making teachers professional lives uncomfortable.
Four of the teachers who filed the lawsuit are from the Monroe County Town of Spencerport, and the other teacher involved in the suit is from Dutchess County. Time Warner Cable News got the following statement from Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins: “New York’s state testing system is among the most transparent in the country. In addition to posting the criteria used to develop, select, and review every item and every passage, we released 50 percent of this year’s 3rd – 8th grade items with explanations of the correct and incorrect answers. Schools get data on how every student performed on every question. New York State educators are involved in every step of the development process and approve every question. We also released 100 percent of the high school test items and have repeatedly requested additional funding from the legislature necessary to release virtually all 3rd-8th grade test items. Obviously, items to be used on future tests must be kept secure. We look forward to NYSUT’s vigorous support for our budget request.”
(Our local source, a teacher who wishes to remain unnamed, criticized the state education department’s statement, saying that the state only did this after much public pressure, and that 100% of the test questions and answers should be given to teachers grades 3-8.