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New York officials signed a $32 million five-year contract with Pearson PLC's subsidiary, NCS Pearson Inc., in 2011 for its Common Core test merchandise. Pearson, a British consortium, is the world's most influential purveyor of educational supplies and holds numerous contracts with New York and other states. Texas, for example, is paying Pearson $462 million for its five-year contract.

Unknown at the time, the Pearson/New York agreement stipulated that the 2014 spring exams would be classified and not subject to public review or educators' criticism. In response to Elizabeth Phillips' April 10 NYT's Op-Ed " We need to Talk About the Test," Pearson says that the state is responsible for the gag order.

Public funds paid for the Pearson contract so it is unlikely that if challenged the suppression order will withstand judicial scrutiny but it is concerning that one or both of the parties believed they could stifle free speech.

The Washington Post revealed last year that Pearson has an unsatisfactory performance history. Alan Singer amplifies the company's failings on the Ravitch blog.

Mr. Singer shares the following sobering information regarding Pearson:

Pearson Education owns the publishers Adobe, Scott Foresman, Penguin, Longman, Wharton, Harcourt, Puffin, Prentice Hall, and Allyn & Bacon.  They are deeply involved in test assessment producing the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Stanford Achievement Test, the Millar Analogy Test, the New York City special high school admissions test, and the G.E.D. Through interlocking boards of directors, partnerships, and donation’s from the company’s foundation, they have developed relationships with the largely online University of Phoenix, Teach for America, Stanford University, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Gates, Lumina, Broad, and Walton Foundations.
The American Legislative Exchange Council [ ALEC] chose the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers as its Common Core sales agents. ALEC favors privatizing public education.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aligned with the Pearson Foundation in 2011 to pursue its Common Core mission. In December 2013 NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, collected $7.7 million from the Pearson Foundation following his allegations of improper use of charitable funds.

It appears from various news sources that Common Core gag orders exist outside the state of New York. An example is the testimony of Susan Kimball, a Missouri kindergarten teacher. Ms. Kimball told state senators in March:

I have been strongly discouraged from saying anything negative about Common Core by my administration and some school board members.
In a professional development meeting, um, inservice in November, and at a faculty meeting in January, we were told in my building, and I quote, ‘Be careful about what you post on Facebook, or talk about in the public regarding Common Core. Don’t say anything negative. It could affect your job.’
Unless we the people say "This shall not stand," the Common Core cartel will control every facet of the American education system.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Badass Teachers are on it. (8+ / 0-)

    Visit us on Facebook to find out and join.

    We're on line here.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:02:53 PM PDT

  •  A person claiming to be an NYC teacher (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, Mogolori, OleHippieChick

    called into Sam Seder's Majority Report on Mar. 31st (sorry, no recording at the link) and said the standardized tests even included product placement.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:29:01 PM PDT

  •  Free Speech Doesn't Mean the People Can Disscuss (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    or be told about their business.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:29:12 PM PDT

  •  So... (0+ / 0-)

    is Pearson responsible for this or is this something else?

    I have two friends, one of whom is quite liberal, who work for Pearson, and I've never heard a bad thing said, so...

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:29:53 PM PDT

  •  Pearson is NOT Common Core... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMScott, IamGumby

    Pearson's tests in NY in particular seem to be horrible... but I want us to remember that the tests are NOT the standards.  There are states designing their own tests and multiple companies attempting to get the $$$ that will come from the testing regimes.  The way testing is being designed in most places totally sucks...

    but the tests are not the same thing as the standards.

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:38:56 PM PDT

    •  they are interlinked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      Pearson was involved in developing the standards and is uniquely positioned to dominate all of the CC products on a national level, from tests to lesson plan modules to teacher training. This is a multi-billion dollar proposition.

      "Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

      by quill on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:45:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't deny that insane amounts of money... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, OleHippieChick, IamGumby

        are being funneled into this.  I just also know that different states  are having different experiences with this.  Mine (Kentucky) adopted the CCSS early, but also adapted them with the advise and input of teachers from kindergarten to higher education.  We also don't belong to either testing consortium at the moment, and are therefore in the process of getting potential test providers to "bid" for our testing.  The goal is to prevent some of the very issues this diary presents...

        Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

        by mommyof3 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:55:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Privatization has always been primarily to get (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, annieli, kurt, OleHippieChick

    out of public officials having to be responsible to the public. As long the voting "public" was actually a relatively small percentage of the whole, it was easy to manage and/or ignore. But universal suffrage and the access to information has had a major effect. Officialdom is no longer able to enjoy the perks of office -- authority, autonomy and monopoly. The psychic satisfactions have been significantly reduced and they're casting about for substitutes. Catering to the monied elite has some merit, if only because the glitter of their prominence wears off. But then, the glitterati become petulant and that's no fun either. We've seen that the Koch boys are annoying just about everyone.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:47:57 PM PDT

  •  In past years when questions have been released (3+ / 0-)

    to show how bad questions were all heck broke lose because the question was usually truly a BAD question. Lots of bad publicity would follow. I don't know who initiated the gag order but if the gag order is also  in place in other states I question who asked that that be part of the contract.  

    It is wrong that the questions and tests are under a gag order.  Parents and kids and the teachers should be able to review the tests.  

    Why yes there is a war on women and minorities.

    by karma5230 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:51:46 PM PDT

  •  Deceptive head (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMScott, OleHippieChick, IamGumby

    It's not Common Core, it's the test that is in question. I had a major discussion about that last week. The Common Core is a set of goals--fine in themselves.

    It's the creation of dumb tests and the association of teacher success and failure with those tests that's the problem.

    •  Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, IamGumby

      I keep running into this conflation, even from people who should know better. Anyone can read the actual standards here.  They are goals.  For example, one of the fifth grade mathematics standards reads as follows:

      Add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators (including mixed numbers) by replacing given fractions with equivalent fractions in such a way as to produce an equivalent sum or difference of fractions with like denominators. For example, 2/3 + 5/4 = 8/12 + 15/12 = 23/12. (In general, a/b + c/d = (ad + bc)/bd.)
      In other words, by the end of fifth grade a child should know how to add and subtract fractions by putting them over a common denominator if necessary. There is nothing there about how this should be taught or tested.

      The process by which they were developed is discussed here.  I’ll simply quote a little from the two-page PDF describing the standards-setting criteria

      These standards have been developed to be:
      • Fewer, clearer, and higher, to best drive effective policy and practice;
      • Aligned with college and work expectations, so that all students are prepared for success upon graduating from high school;
      • Inclusive of rigorous content and applications of knowledge through higher-order skills, so that all students are prepared for the 21st century;
      • Internationally benchmarked, so that all students are prepared for succeeding in our global economy and society; and
      • Research and evidence-based.
      These are reasonable criteria.  One can legitimately ask whether the standards actually meet these criteria, but then one must discuss specific standards and provide evidence that they do or do not, and I’ve not seen anyone do that.  I’ve seen complaints that they are not ‘age-appropriate’, but never with specifics.  (There may be some that are not: I’ve not looked at all of them, even in my own field of mathematics.  But no one has yet offered me a specific example, let alone with evidence of its inappropriateness.)

      Apart from that, however, every complaint that I’ve seen has really been directed at either a particular implementation of the standards or — as is the case here — the testing.  (Or both, of course.)  And the testing, at least, is both excessive and frequently abysmal.

      As for Pearson, I had to use one of their university-level testing products the last year before I retired, in a so-called liberal arts math course.  I was not impressed.

      •  Bravo and both (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BMScott

        Nice to wake up to a thoughtful comment. Teachers hate Common Core because it has been tied to very low level tests and blackmail money (Race to the Top). While the Obama administration has created some alternate paths for assessment in Race to the Top, few two-digit thinking school administrators want to go to the effort of developing broader systems.

        In Florida and Texas, Bush's company was designing and making tons of money from these tests.

        Remember, today's school administrators mostly went to school in the Reagan "back to basics" era. His evil legacy lives on in many ways.

  •  ITTS, it's the test, stupid (0+ / 0-)

    Often people coming to this argument for the first time, point in a link to the common core standards...  The common argument they give goes like this:  there may be problems, but, look, look at the standards.

    Those involved with common core looked at them a long time ago. Those are marketing tools.

    Just like an advertisement on the 700 club.  The goals are well meant... and it would certainly be noble to support them.

    Who wouldn't want to help children in Africa?...  But.... Just as discovering that all the money given goes as an investment to mine diamonds in the Congo, will deflate the noble standards issued by Pat Robertson,  so does seeing the test and the motives of those using it, deflate all trust in the standards created to market this program...

    If the standards are high and mighty... and you child learns nothing after 12 years...  are they still good standards?

    If so, ... Pat Robertson need more of your money... NOW!

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