Action Statement on Orlando and LGBTQ Community Support

13445365_2037861276438525_3895406922443493196_n

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, as well as all members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. The echo of these shots have been heard across the country and around the world. It is a sound that will not soon be forgotten.

The recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida has highlighted the deprivation of tolerance that still exists in our society. The intersectionality of education with our societal issues is one that can not be ignored as we call upon fellow educators to recognize and embrace our role in shaping future generations towards creating an inclusive space that will be safe and free of oppression.

To provide an inclusive, safe environment in which all students can learn, it is imperative that the rights of members of the LGBTQ community be recognized and protected at all levels, student, educator, or school staff professional. As bullying initiatives have highlighted in recent years, safety is the number one right of all within a school. However, in spite of these efforts, members of the LGBTQ community are still being intimidated and harassed.

To strive for an environment that is inclusive for all students, we urge all educators to:

  • Include activities and lessons that teach and promote tolerance.
  • Work to make school bullying policies include language that specifically protects gender nonconforming students.
  • Create/build/support a GSA club at school.
  • Offer students the support they need to make their preferred gender identity known. Use their preferred pronoun and name while also respecting their privacy rights and possible need for confidentiality.
  • Advocate for diversity training for all members of the staff and administration.
  • Work to make sure all after school activities and events are inclusive.
  • Advocate for the designation of gender neutral restrooms.

To strive for an environment that is inclusive for all staff, we urge all educators to:

  • Advocate for diversity training for all members of staff.
  • Advocate for a review of the district’s workplace harassment guidelines to include language that protects members of the LGBTQ community.
  • Know the procedures for reporting workplace harassment and intimidation within your district, and make others aware of these procedures.
  • Use a person’s preferred name and pronoun.
  • Act to designate gender neutral faculty restrooms.
  • Speak with legislators and work to eliminate any laws that allow for the dismissal of employees that identify as a member of the LGBTQ community as well as any laws that are discriminatory of members of the LGBTQ community

It is through education that our future society can become one that is tolerant and inclusive of all people. It is our responsibility to become purposeful and intentional in our profession to build towards that goal.  Once again, we offer our sincere thoughts of peace to all those in the LGBTQ community who are suffering at this time.

BATs Request a White House Conference on Education and Equity

The Badass Teachers Association, representing a network of over 70,000 teachers and education activists throughout the United States, formally request a White House Conference on Education and Equity.

13390910_775477449254803_2084676380_nOur organization stands firmly against the serious harm being perpetrated to public education by both corporate privatization and right wing fiscal starvation policies. The current political rhetoric strengthens our resolve to reclaim the rights of all children to a free public education.

We focus on the many reasons poverty is claiming the lives and health of our children, and we focus on keeping our K-12 schools from privatization and the target of under-funding.

Our organization proposes that a White House Conference be initiated immediately. Like much of the American landscape, Public K-12 Education requires infrastructure overhaul that have been installed to insert barriers that inhibit authentic learning. We do not accept the mendacity that racial and ethnic minorities must fail.

We witness what happens when social justice safeguards are removed by forces that hide inside school choice and free market de-regulation. Public school teachers are this country’s first responders against the effects of poverty.

School privatization profits from systemic racism and use their profits to build higher barriers and deeper inequities. Testing monopolies and “business” style management practices now glean millions exploiting our children and disregard our students with special needs and English Language Learners. These efforts must not go unchecked.
To see the entire proposal for this conference go here
http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/2016/06/press-release-badass-teachers.html

New Jersey BATs Decry the Use of Standardized Tests.

he Badass Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
NJ Logo new 5-14The Badass Teachers Association of New Jersey firmly states that there is no validity in the recent release of the New Jersey Partnership for Assessment for Readiness of College and Career scores and reaffirms their mission to work to eradicate such measures that are being used to punish our children, our teachers, and our schools.
A single score on a single test cannot possibly measure the daily events that occur in our public school systems. These tests were not designed by classroom teachers and the results have been released with many inherent flaws.
– These tests were aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the implementation of which was so botched that the state of New Jersey is now working on revisions.
– The CCSS implementation was done as a top down initiative across all grade levels, creating a ‘bubble’ of students who do not have the educational background of having these standards throughout their educational careers, yet were subjected to these closely tied tests as an assessment.
– The administration of the test across the state was met with many issues including but not limited to – loss of internet access, computers with no sound-cards to enable text-to-speech features, classified students who did not receive accommodations that were outlined in their IEP, disorganized scheduling that caused extreme loss of instructional time and tore away at the consistency that children need to create a positive learning environments.
The validity of the cut scores remains extremely questionable in light of the knowledge that there is a direct agenda of several parties to label our schools as failing in order to close down and reorganize districts in ways that best benefits and feed the bank accounts of private interests. It is a known fact that results on standardized tests relate heavily to socio-economic backgrounds; a fact that logically precludes the conclusion that these tests are not a true measure of learning. These tests have been established as a tool to label public schools, specifically in urban communities, as failing.
The fact that the New Jersey Department of Education is not forthcoming with all of the information about the PARCC scores in one public release that includes educational stakeholders is a testament to the knowledge they hold that the educational decisions made under Governor Chris Christie are not what is best for our children.
The purpose, the client, and the reason for education is to benefit the children. As an organization, we vehemently decry the use of these tests to measure the value of our school systems, our teachers, and our students.

Teachers and staff in Upland PA open school with no promise of pay!

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 9.45.44 PM

 

Have you head about the teachers and staff in Chester Upland, PA that are returning to work without any pay?? (I am sure BATs have!!!) But we need to make sure the rest of the world hears about them!

It is important for the public to see that public schools employees and concerned community members will go above and beyond. We keep giving them stories that validate this and soon the truth cannot be denied.

But the truly important part of their story is that a solution was offered to help the district in the form of a reduction of payments to the charter schools. The representatives of the charter schools cried foul and declared that it would be too much of a burden for them.

Diane Ravitch posted about them today… http://dianeravitch.net/…/teachers-and-staff-at-chester-up…/

Steven Singer wrote about them…https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/…/teachers-offer…/

Community members in the area have started a gofundme for these dedicated people!! http://www.gofundme.com/4v3bftfjk

State Issues Charge Against Holyoke Public Schools for Firing Union Leader

For Immediate Release:
August 21, 2015
Contact: Gus Morales, President Holyoke Teachers Association,   GusMoralesHTA@gmail.com
                
 
State Issues Charge Against Holyoke Public Schools for Firing Union Leader
 
The state Department of Labor Relations (DLR) has found “probable cause” to believe that the Holyoke Public Schools illegally fired Holyoke Teachers Association (HTA) President Gus Morales because of his activism as a union leader.
The DLR will hold a hearing on the complaint, which stems from a charge filed by the HTA on June 25. The DLR complaint is similar to a grand jury indictment; the upcoming hearing will have many of the characteristics of a trial, with witnesses and cross-examination.
“Because I speak out against policies that I see as bad for our students and bad for our educators, I have been targeted for two straight years,” said Morales, whose employment contract with the Holyoke Public Schools was not renewed at the end of the school year.
Morales, who does not have professional teaching status, was similarly dismissed at the end the 2013-14 school year after his election to lead the HTA. Then, as now, the DLR issued a complaint that found reason to believe that Morales was illegally terminated for his union activism. 
In that case, following the initial DLR complaint, the Holyoke Public Schools agreed with the HTA and Morales to return Morales to the classroom in November. Shortly thereafter, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced a planned review of Holyoke Public Schools and its intentions to recommend that the district be placed under the control of a state-appointed receiver.
Morales and the HTA were vocal opponents of the takeover, which was imposed in April despite widespread objections from the community and several of its elected leaders.
“It is an outrage that an educator and leader such as Gus Morales, who has spoken out for the students and the Holyoke community, is being targeted for dismissal,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “The MTA will not tolerate attacks on educators, especially when the attack is meant to cause fear among those who challenge the deeply flawed accountability system used to punish educators, students and communities. Gus has the courage to address the real issues affecting Holyoke — such as economic and racial injustice — and the MTA supports him and the HTA in holding the state accountable for providing resources that the community can use to combat these problems.”
Throughout stakeholder meetings to craft a “turnaround” plan for Holyoke Public Schools, Morales and others from the HTA raised concerns about the influence of standardized tests, the need to provide social services to students living in poverty, inadequate programs for students on special education plans, the lack of ethnic diversity in the teaching ranks and other issues that they felt that the receiver needs to address.
“Before I became vocal about the problems I see in our schools, I received very good evaluations. But once I spoke out, my evaluations turned negative,” Morales said. “The real story here is how the current evaluation process lets administrators target and eventually terminate educators who challenge their authority.” 

The Art of Deception: Friedrich vs. CTA


History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.   ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

History will remember.
Let Dr. King’s words lift our spirits in a time when unions are under attack.

Friedrichs vs. CTA will be heard in the Supreme Court this coming year. As research into this case is done, a disturbing sense of unease grows.

Here are the Plaintiffs

REBECCA FRIEDRICHS

SCOTT WILFORD

JELENA FIGUEROA

GEORGE W. WHITE, JR.

KEVIN ROUGHTON

PEGGY SEARCY

JOSE MANSO

HARLAN ELRICH

KAREN CUEN

IRENE ZAVALA

All of these folks are represented by The Center for Individual Rights. (More on them later)

Also listed in the lawsuit is the CHRISTIAN EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL, more on them later as well.

Here is the screen shot of the cover sheet of the petition

Slide1 (1)
The issue at hand from the SCOTUS blog is whether Abood v. Detroit Board should be over turned and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements (a.k.a. mandatory union dues) should be invalidated under the First Amendment; and (2) whether it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech.”

In plain English, the case will challenge whether Abood, which, according to Cornell Law, was established by a “Michigan statute authorizing union representation of local governmental employees permits an “agency shop” arrangement, whereby every employee represented by a union, even though not a union member, must pay to the union, as a condition of employment, a service charge equal in amount to union dues.”
Keep in mind that the plaintiffs in this case can, and Friedrichs did, opt out of paying full dues (non chargeable) if they do not want their money used for political purposes (this is in California).

Keeping this all in mind when analyzing the Friedrichs case, return to Dr. King’s statement:

“Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it.”

If Friedrichs successfully overturns Abood and removes “agency shop” fees many surmise it will destroy labor unions in the country. Exposure of the real intent of the Friedrichs case is necessary because the political nature of this case is alarming; not just because of its ability to destroy labor unions but because of the nature of the deception.

The Center for Individual Rights is the firm that is representing Friedrichs, the 9 other teachers and The Christian Educators Association International.

The largest donor to CIR are the Koch Brothers ($40,000)

The Koch Brothers have a long and prestigious resume of attacking public sector unions and two summers ago were instrumental in orchestrating the removal of a teacher’s right to due process in Kansas.

CIR also has a long history of fighting against Affirmative Action and supported the Boy Scouts in an attempt to keep out LBGT people.

Is the picture becoming clear?

Digest!

When looking at the main plaintiff of the case, Rebecca Friedrichs, a question is raised, “How is she associated with an organization that has a long history of opposing “affirmative action and other programs that attempt to restore racial/gender/sexual equality.”?

Part 2 of this expose will explore the connections.

Take a look at some statements explaining why she has supported this lawsuit.

In this Orange County register article she stated, “In 1993, I refused to support a union attack on a common sense voucher initiative that would have given parent’s choice in education and saved millions in tax dollars. Instead of respecting my rights and opinion, my union representative called me a “radical right winger,” and bullied me in front of colleagues. What was radical about protecting taxpayers and desiring the best for my students and their families?” http://www.ocregister.com/articles/union-631122-employees-unions.html

In this video clip she states that teachers get “cadillac pensions” and uses corporate reform rhetoric that due process protects “bad teachers.” (see beginning 4:32)

Also included in this lawsuit are the Christian Educators Association International. Who are The Christian Educators Association International? They are a teachers association with fees and dues. Here is their mission:

To Encourage, Equip, and Empower Educators according to Biblical Principles

Proclaim God’s Word as the source of wisdom and knowledge

Portray teaching as a God given calling and ministry

Promote educational excellence as an expression of Christian commitment

Preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage and values through education

Promote the legal rights of Christians in public schools

Provide a forum on educational issues with a Christian world view

Partner with churches, parachurch organizations, educational institutions and parents

Provide resources and benefits for educators including professional liability insurance

If you feel so inclined, meet and read about their director, Finn Larson. He claims their mission guides their focus in serving Christian Educators and in pursuit they:

Proclaim God’s word as the source of wisdom and knowledge

Portray teaching as a God given calling and ministry

Promote educational excellence as an expression of Christian commitment

Preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage and values through education

Provide a forum on educational issues with a Christian world view

Partner with churches, parachurch organizations, educational institutions and parents

And….by the way one other plaintiff in this case, Harlan Erhlich is a member of CEAI

Digest!

CEAI also seems to be partnering with Union Facts on an event called “National Employee Freedom Week” a coalition of 68 organizations in 40 states that promote union members opting out of their union.

Who is Union Facts? Sourcewatch describes Union Facts as “a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities.”

Is the Friedrichs case really about First and Fourteenth Amendment rights?

Is it about mandatory union dues?

This is NOT about “agency fees” at all. This is not about First Amendment rights or Fourteenth Amendment rights.

This is about, contrary to what Friedrichs says, the destruction of unionism.

So, where do we go from here? We fight and expose the deception of this lawsuit. Call. It. Out! Spread. The. Word.

This is a concerted effort by the Koch Brothers, conservative factions, and religious entities to destroy the backbone of this country – labor unions who fight for social justice and who have a right to labor peace.

#solidarity

APPR/VAM WILL GO ON TRIAL IN NY SUPREME COURT TOMORROW

Sherri

 

Many NY BATs and their allies will be traveling to the capital of NY tomorrow to stand in support of NY teacher Sheri Lederman. Sheri, a celebrated teacher in her district, went from an “effective” teacher to an “ineffective” teacher in one school year. She (and her husband who is her attorney) courageously and bravely sued the NY Education Department and Commissioner of Education John King. There will be oral arguments in NY State Supreme Court tomorrow and NY BATs will be there. To read more on this case you can read this article in the Washington Post. 

We will be tweeting ‪#‎APPRonTrial‬ tomorrow so if you tweet, please join in. Show the world how ridiculous VAM is and use your experiences to bring it to light. Please post messages of support for Sheri below in the comments. We will be sharing them with her. Remember ‪#‎WeRallSheri‬

Governor Christie, We Will Not Turn the Other Cheek!

me
Abusive Christie

As a national organization dedicated to purposeful action to support educational professionals and America’s children, we would be remiss in our mission if we were to take lightly presidential candidate Chris Christie’s recent statement on CNN that the national teachers union deserves a “punch in the face” for being the most “destructive force” in America. Our duty must extend beyond a call to action to expose a presidential candidate’s bullying attack on teachers unions. Now is the time to show how these statements are symptomatic representations of what is a national agenda.

The 21st century in the United States is a time of profound social inequality, with great economic prosperity for the few and a steady erosion of the safety net for the rest of us.  It is incumbent on educators to expose the systemic tearing away of the fibers of unionism itself through this and countless other attacks. These attacks have come not only from presidential candidate Christie, but from politicians and public figures that stand to directly and personally benefit from seeing an end to unions in this country. Christie’s statement is a call to arms for all unions to unite against  the common enemies who have union busting agendas as we face future battles, including the impending Supreme Court decision in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. Unions were once an essential tool in the establishment of the middle class in the US, fighting for equity within our society. As we face a further threat to economic equity, we need to call upon the ideals of unionism and strengthen protections for society as a whole, including additional support for our marginalized populations.

Exposing the national anti-union agenda must not be our only goal in the wake of presidential candidate Chris Christie’s repugnant statements. Such a blatantly violent, misogynistic term must not be tolerated from a sitting governor, let alone a presidential candidate.  It is necessary to call into question the term “punch” Christie uses when referring to the teachers’ union. This language is a specific attack on women who comprise 70-73 percent of education professionals and are a minority sector of our population. As a governor, Chris Christie and other elected officials are charged with the representation of their constituents. Those entrusted with governance are representatives of all people – men, women, and children – and all are called upon to condemn these statements.

CHICAGO Public School Budget Cuts: A Mother Speaks

#Down2BareBones

By Bats Social Media Team: Aixa Rodriguez, Steven Singer, Sue Goncarovs, Lisa Smith

A group of concerned Chicago mothers, called BAM, or Badass Moms, dressed in skeleton and bone costumes on July 29th to protest against $60 million in public school budget cuts while charter schools gained $30 million in funding. These mothers and their children wore the Halloween attire to illustrate how deep these spending cuts were hitting their schools – down to the bare bones. Members of the Badass Teachers Association’s Social Media Team chatted with Rousemary Vega, founding Badass Mom, an involved and concerned parent of four public school students, to find out about the BAM action and what is happening in Chicago public schools.
·
Aixa Rodriguez:  We would like to tell the story of this parent protest. Tell us about your group. What is your mission/purpose?

Rousemary Vega: Our mission was to bring to life how our Public Schools are being starved. We have been on the chopping block for many years, but money is being redirected and charters are being funded.

Aixa: You protested by wearing clothing with skeletons and bones on them and were holding tombstones. What was the significance of these choices?

Rousemary: We wanted to be creative in our message and we needed to be bold enough. The purpose of the skeleton suits was to visually show that we are DOWN 2 BARE BONES.

Aixa: What does this group of mothers wish to change?

Rousemary: We wish to change the dirty inequality in our neighborhood public schools. We want to change how our parents are linked and involved. We want to build bridges of parents, from one Public School to another. We want to raise our parents voices so loud that we no longer can be ignored and or silenced. We will not shake in fear.

Aixa: What is currently happening in Chicago schools? How have the mayor’s choices impacted neighborhood schools?

Rousemary : What is happening here in Chicago, is a massacre of Public Education, a disruption of futures and the killing of a profession. Our children are paying the price for the corporations’ free ride. Public school is where everyone is welcome. They are changing and privatizing schools. Where will the kids go? Where will the kids that need different teaching and more time go? They are cutting the arts, trips, teachers, transportation. The charters are getting funded and they are leaving us with nothing.

We started a petition asking Depaul University for the money back that would have gone to public schools.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/depaul-naming-rights?source=c.tw&r_by=4614698


Aixa:  Your group has said “Every Chicago school is your school.” What do you mean by that? Why is this your slogan?

Rousemary: It is not enough to just care about the school your kids go to. These cuts are happening to the system. Chicago is really segregated, and they want us to fight among ourselves. But we can’t hate each other because one school has a program my school doesn’t. We need to unite and fight so all schools have that program. Every school is our school.

Aixa: Parents have long supported the Chicago Teachers Union, seeing the teachers issues as connected to the quality of education children receive in Chicago Public Schools. This #Down2BareBones action features mothers alone. Why was this done? Why were teachers not at this event?

Rousemary: We love and highly respect the CTU. But this action was about mothers who are done being a shadow. We want the mayor and every other parent to know we have our own voice and that this is our fight. Because when I fight for Education, I mean everything.

SueG:  Karen Lewis has been a stalwart supporter of teachers and parents in this…how have the attempts to discredit teachers been part of the impetus of your protests?

Rousemary: Karen Lewis is amazing and her support for parents, loyalty. It really upsets me to see how they – the system, the reformers, the money makers – are discrediting teachers. I know this is being done because teachers are the forces to our chances and changes. Because without teachers, we will all fail. That is my motivation, I can’t let my children fail. Why are they not valued like the kids in charters? Why must we make do with the bare bones?

Steven Singer: Rousemary, is this happening in all Chicago public schools or just schools serving certain populations? Minorities? Poor? Etc.

Rousemary: Steven, this is happening to all our public schools, but more cuts to our poor communities as much as $3.9 million. Rahm’s choices have clearly been an attack on our black and brown communities, teachers and students.

Steven: Is this coming mostly from the mayor’s office? Would it have been different with Chuy (Garcia)?

Rousemary: Yes, much different with Chuy.

Aixa: What do you want Chicago aldermen to know?

Rousemary:  Today’s action was important for us as mothers, we want to raise awareness. We need our parent voices to rise and be heard. I want to be that mother to guide and push other parents to stand up for all schools not just their own. Some of our schools no longer have physical education. They are taking it online!

Aixa: That’s outrageous !!!

Rousemary: Yes. The cuts are really deep. We are literally #DOWN2BAREBONES.

Aixa: How do they even justify this!!

Rousemary: He (Emanuel) is a money making bully who says he cares about our city, but not the people in the city. No money. They say they are bankrupt.

Aixa: What is the state of the charters?

Rousemary: They are giving away our Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money to corporations that don’t need it. It’s all about privatizing.

Nancy Osborne: Awful, awful, awful. Chicago is like watching Detroit sliding into the abyss again.

Aixa: What do you want other parents to know?

Rousemary: That when it comes to public education and its teachers, we need to act today because tomorrow might be too late. To know that when you stand up and fight…..your voice becomes heard.

Aixa: You are a warrior for the right reasons. How can Chicago citizens help draw attention to this situation?

Steven Singer: Is there anything folks outside of Chicago can do to help?

Rousemary: All our public schools are bleeding and being cut. It’s really hard to watch. Help us spread our message. #Down2BareBones. Tell your elected officials.

SueG: How should parents who are interested in helping you contact you for more information?
Rousemary: They can email me at

SueG:  How difficult has it been to attract media attention to what parents have been saying?

Rousemary: The media is not on our side.  Not difficult to attract,  difficult for right words. They spin the story so our voices aren’t heard. It’s like we don’t matter. They had security and like 10 policemen for mothers with babies and didn’t let us into the meeting; they said it was full. But with who? Who speaks for us? And the media doesn’t dig deeper and doesn’t expose this.

SueG: How will these cuts  hurt your children and has your family been impacted economically?

Rousemary: I wish I could tell you that this is about how it is hurting my pockets and it is, trust me. But, these cuts are hurting us physically, mentally and emotionally. For example, the budget cuts included that special teacher, or no more physical education, or no more field trips, or no more bus transportation. Our cuts are #DOWN2BAREBONES. We are in desperate times. We are being closed out. We must stand up today.

 

Poster in picture courtesy of  Ellen Gradman, a BAM MEMBER
Present for this action:
Clare Fauke
Julie Dworkin
Mary Fahey Hughes
Karen McKeegan Fraid
Carolina Gaete
Carolyn Brown
Rachel Lessem
Janet Meegan
Jesus Ramos

 

BAM member Cassandre Creswell

 

 

Links for Further Reading :

 

 

NJ BATs Statement to NJ Assembly Eduation Committee

banner-b

The more than 1300 members of the New Jersey Badass Teachers Association stand in solidarity with Chairmen of the Assembly Education Committee, Assemblyman Diegnan, in his requests that a representative of Pearson appear Thursday before his committee to explain the company’s surveillance of New Jersey student’s social media activity and the companies decision to report students to the Department of Education.. The story that Bob Braun released Friday March 13th demonstrates the extensive overreach that this company has been allowed with regards to the privacy of minors and its possible collusion with the Department of Education. The fact that Pearson feels entitled not just to monitor social media but to report behavior that they find to the NJDOE and that they expect the NJDOE to act on such reports is a blatant display of a very troubling relationship between a private for profit company and the NJDOE, a public body that is empowered to serve the needs of our children. This needs to be investigated – the full extent of the demands and control that Pearson has on our NJDOE and thereby on our schools, educators, and students. It is quite clear that Pearson is serving its own interest and will use any measure to achieve their goals.

The concerns expressed by parents, teachers and community members regarding the disruptive effect PARCC is having on the educational programs in our schools including budgetary cuts from needed programs,such as creative arts and after school activities, was cause enough for concern . But when we allow a profit driven corporation to dictate demands upon our schools, all stakeholders should be questioning the motives of these entities and analyzing if they are really operating in the best interest of all our children. At this point, it has become quite clear that Pearson is serving its own interest and will use any measure to achieve their goals.

Pearson’s overwhelming influence has resulted in disruption to our schools, a dictation of the testing modifications of our special needs students, a strain on our budgets to meet technology and testing requirements as well as holding our children hostage to a strained testing culture that has driven any love of learning and enjoyment of school from their daily lives. Parents have started to speak loudly against their influence in the form of thousands of children across the state refusing to take the PARCC exams. Our union has launched an extensive campaign against testing. As a company that is being paid millions of dollars for a contract with the state, Pearson should be in the position to be meeting the demands of the state, of our schools, and of our children. Instead, the state has been exhausting all resources possible to meet the demands of the Pearson corporation to integrate its requirements. Requirements that have resulted in several testing errors that include videos not being seen or heard by all students, students and test administrators becoming frustrated when unable to correctly start tests, unnecessary burdens to school administrators and staff to adjust scheduling needs, a loss of classroom instructional time, a total interruption in the educational learning process, not once but twice this school year, and an entire generation of students that have been left feeling that they are not smart enough and that they do not deserve a well-rounded learning experience.

As constituents of the state of New Jersey , we have confidence that our legislators will hold Pearson and the New Jersey Department of Education responsible for these transgressions against our children. We trust that the Assembly Education Committee will see the need for more than one simple conversation to address the issues that Pearson is forcing our schools to face. We know that several more conversations will be held as our representatives take on the responsibility of investigating the invasion of Pearson into the lives of our children.