By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Dr. Gary Thompson, a child psychologist from Utah, has a blunt question for Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine: “What the hell is wrong with you?”
There’s more. In an open letter to Lehman, Thompson wrote:
“Let me get straight to the point: On behalf of every African-American, Latino, Autistic, gifted, depressed, anxious and learning-disabled child in the state of Wisconsin, I demand your immediate resignation from public office.”
What prompted this mild-mannered doctor’s outrage?
Thompson flew to Wisconsin to testify at a public hearing on Common Core State Standards in October. He spoke for some 15 minutes on the potential for negative psychological effects on at-risk youth populations from the computerized Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests under Common Core. Students in Wisconsin classrooms, he says, are the guinea pigs for a test that has not itself been tested.
Testing under Common Core “has a high statistical chance of screwing up the academic and emotional lives of African-American, Latino, autistic, gifted, anxious, depressed, and learning-disabled children in Wisconsin and beyond,” Thompson wrote.
When Thompson finished, Lehman asked who paid him — and how much — for his testimony.
Thompson had said he was paid about $1,150, for airfare and a rental car, by American Opinion Foundation, a nonprofit with ties to the conspiratorial John Birch Society. He said he was asked to visit Wisconsin to testify on testing and child psychology. Several Wisconsinites at the Common Core hearing testified to putting money in a hat to fly in experts on the standards.
The Racine senator and Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Middleton, then sent a news release condemning the involvement of Birchers and paid testimony in the Common Core hearings.
“Wisconsin has a long and unfortunate history with this type of right-wing extremism, and while public hearings are certainly open forums for all opinions we are glad that Dr. Thompson at last acknowledged the American Opinion Foundation,” Lehman and Pope write.
Thompson, who said he campaigned for President Obama, fired back.
“Incredulously, what made the headlines all over the state of Wisconsin … was your passionate concern over who paid my airfare (coach) and my hotel (two star) bill! So I have to ask with all sincerity, my brother, what the hell is wrong with you cognitively and emotionally?” Thompson wrote.
Lehman did not return Wisconsin Reporter requests for response.
Thompson is director of Special Education Advocacy and Instruction at Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center in South Jordan, Utah. He also opposed the implementation of Common Core in Utah.
“Your callous disregard surrounding the issues of child abuse and the struggles of minority and special needs children in public schools in Wisconsin will be forever memorialized on the Internet,” Thompson wrote.
Contact reporter Ryan Ekvall at [email protected] or on Twitter @Nockian