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13-year-old girl suspended for opposing Common Core

Seirra Olivero
Seirra Olivero
Courtesy of Allyse Pulliam/For the Times Herald-Record

Common Core has become the new toy gun. In much the way bringing a plastic water pistol to school (or biting a toaster pastry into a gun shape while on school property) has constituted grounds for suspension, the new object of zero tolerance politics is opposition to the Common Core Curriculum Standards. From the Times-Herald Record (of upstate New York):

A 13-year-old student at Orange-Ulster BOCES believes she was suspended from school this week as a result of telling other students they didn't have to take the Common Core English test Tuesday.

The girl, eighth-grader Seirra Olivero, was suspended for two days for insubordination.

While she acknowledges the charge, she contends in a complaint filed with the district that she felt bullied by three administrators because she told other students they didn't have to take the test.

The child’s mother, Carin Beauchesne, told reporters that her daughter is “being treated like a criminal. She's a 13-year-old girl.” But William Hecht, Orange-Ulster BOCES's superintendent, said that the girl’s complaint, which was filed under the state's Dignity for All Students Act, is being taken seriously. He added that her suspension was a result of her refusing to obey administrators.

The details of the story, which follow, suggest it was a little bit from Column A and a little bit from Column B.

In her complaint, Seirra claims that the day of the test, she told a student he didn't have to take the test if he didn't want to. A teacher told her to "shut my mouth and keep walking." She proceeded to tell other friends the same thing — that they weren't required to take the test, which she insisted moreover, “is set up for the kids to fail."

Later that morning, she was summoned to the principal's office where she says she was asked rudely "why she was telling students they didn't have to take the test." When she replied that had done “some research and it said they don't have to,” the principal asked if she'd researched "both sides" of the issue.

Seirra admits that she grew increasingly impatient with the principal, adding that when she asked to call her mother, the principal refused. At that point, the girl stalked out of the office, slamming the door behind her.

In the hallway, she encountered a second administrator, who told her:

I had no business telling the kids that they don't have to take the test and if I wanted to tell them I [could] out of school.

[T]hen I said, 'I can tell them whatever I want [and] to mind his business' and he said 'No, it is his business.'

The administration's argument that Seirra behaved impudently is not without merit. But if any aspect of her story about transpired is true, then they were clearly out of line.

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