May 9, 2016

PED to erase ‘gag rule’ against criticizing standardized tests

The state will no longer have a so-called “gag rule” in place against teachers, stopping them from criticizing controversial standardized tests that many teachers dislike.

aclu nmThe move comes just weeks after PED found itself facing a lawsuit over the existence of the rule.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico called the rule “unconstitutional” and filed a lawsuit on behalf of six public school teachers and one parent of a public school student.

The Associated Press first reported the upcoming change in policy by the Public Education Department.

The rule, in place for years, said public school employees could not “disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of standardized tests.” Consequences of the rule included “suspension or revocation of a person’s educator or administrator licensure or other PED license.”

In the past, PED officials said no one had ever been punished under the rule.

ACLU-NM staff attorney María Mártinez Sánchez praised the PED decision.

“We are extremely pleased that the Public Education Department has chosen to do the right thing and strike this unconstitutional gag rule from the books,” Mártinez Sánchez said. “Many NM educators have serious and legitimate concerns about overreliance on standardized testing, and the harms it can cause to individual students and the educational process as a whole. We should be listening to the teachers’ expertise on these issues, not trying to stifle their free speech by threatening their jobs.”

NM Political Report reached out to a spokesman for the Public Education Department Monday but received no response.