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.