LONDON—The American Federation of Teachers, along with teachers unions and nongovernmental organizations throughout the world, will speak out during Pearson’s annual general meeting Friday, April 29, in London to call for a review of its business model that pushes high-stakes testing in the United States and privatized schools in the developing world.
AFT President Randi Weingarten will co-present a shareholder resolution signed by more than 100 pension funds, labor unions and individuals, representing 193,000 Pearson shareholders, including UNISON, Trade Union Fund Managers and the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. The resolution highlights the damaging effects on public education of the high-stakes standardized tests that Pearson sells to school districts and its promotion of private and costly schools, rather than public schooling, for families in the developing world.
A global petition reminding Pearson that every child has a right to a free, high-quality education—signed by nearly 15,000 people—also will be delivered at the meeting.
Pearson stock has plunged 40 percent over the past year.
“We’ve given Pearson management the chance to change,” Weingarten said. “While the world has moved on, Pearson has not. The new U.S. federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, provides a reset on education policy, an acknowledgement that high-stakes testing does not make schools better or raise student achievement. And the backlash against education privatization and marketization continues to grow.”
Weingarten said Pearson should work with, not against, end users and key stakeholders, such as teachers, parents and students. “Pearson needs to acknowledge the global right to free and accessible public education and become a valued partner, rather than an impediment, to teaching and learning,” she said.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers of the United Kingdom, said Pearson, operating in 80 countries, is a leading “edu-business” seeking to make a profit from education.
“Pearson’s promotion of high-stakes tests is undermining the ability of schools to provide a well-balanced and broad curriculum, while its involvement with low-cost private schools in the Global South is jeopardizing access to education for many children,” Blower said. “Education is a human and civil right and a public good, for the good of learners and society, not private profit. We hope that Pearson shareholders take on board the issues we are raising and support our resolution.”
Schedule for Friday, April 29, in London:
11:00 a.m. British Standard Time: Petition delivered at Pearson headquarters, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL. Attending: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten; Britain’s National Union of Teachers Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney; South African Democratic Teachers Union General Secretary Mugwena Maluleke; New Zealand Educational Institute National Secretary Paul Goulter; and others.
11:15 a.m. BST: Leafleting shareholders outside the Pearson annual general meeting, IET London, 2 Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL.
11:45 a.m. BST: Shareholders attend Pearson meeting.
1:30 p.m. BST: Press conference by campaigners at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, 100 Strand, London WC2R 0EW. Attending: NUT’s Kevin Courtney, AFT’s Weingarten and others.