AFT protests testing company's gag orders on teachers

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In conjunction with the annual Pearson shareholder meeting in London, AFT President Randi Weingarten on April 25 released a letter sent to Pearson executives, board members and shareholders calling on the corporation to remove "gag orders" preventing educators from expressing concerns about Pearson-developed tests and to meet with educators, parents and other stakeholders to address their concerns regarding these tests. Pearson is the largest testing company in the world and derives 57 percent of its profits from the U.S.

Representatives from the AFT delivered the letter at the shareholder meeting and discussed the concerns of educators, parents, students and shareholders. The AFT also launched an online action allowing educators, parents and others across the world to make the same demands of Pearson executives and board members.

"Principals and teachers in New York who recently administered the Pearson-developed Common Core tests have said they are barred from speaking about the test content and its effects on students," wrote Weingarten. "This appears to be a result of a Pearson contract term that has been construed as disallowing them from expressing their concerns and views. …On behalf of teachers, parents, students and your shareholders, including our pension plans, I ask you to immediately remove these prohibitions (referred to as "gag orders" in the press) from existing and future contracts."

Weingarten continued, "These gag orders and the lack of transparency are fueling the growing distrust and backlash among parents, students and educators in the United States about whether the current testing protocols and testing fixation is in the best interests of children. When parents aren't allowed to know what is on their children's tests, and when educators have no voice in how assessments are created and are forbidden from raising legitimate concerns about the quality of these assessments or from talking to parents about these concerns, you not only increase distrust of testing but also deny children the rich learning experience they deserve." [AFT press release]

April 25, 2014