Pearson Education is the giant English corporation at the heart of the testing industry’s stranglehold on public education in this country. In Texas alone, the company holds a contract worth nearly half a billion dollars to provide the state with the achievement exams that have become the centerpiece of the test-and-punish Texas accountability system.
Given Pearson’s pivotal role in sustaining the culture of high-stakes testing in the U.S., it makes some sense to cut out the middlemen and go straight to the corporate source of the testing mania in order to seek some redress for educators and parents who have been denied a genuine voice in testing and accountability.
That’s why, as part of the broader battle against the misuse and overuse of standardized testing, AFT President Randi Weingarten sent a team from AFT to London this week to deliver a message directly to Pearson Education at its annual shareholders’ meeting.
Pearson’s contracts with states like New York that are administering Pearson’s Common Core-related assessments actually forbid educators to discuss the content or quality of the tests. They can’t even tell parents what’s on the test their children are taking, even though these educators feel a professional obligation to raise red flags about test content that isn’t age-appropriate and doesn’t align with student learning.
The AFT team at the shareholders’ meeting therefore has embarked on a mission to demand that the company remove the contractual “gag orders” preventing educators from talking about Pearson’s tests—and to demand that Pearson sit down with parents, teachers, principals, and students to address legitimate concerns about these tests.