Protesters gathered beneath Pearson’s carrot-colored halo at this year’s National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Comprised of education professors and teachers who object to the publishing giant’s influence in public education, the group of sixty occupied the conference exhibit hall for over half an hour, marching, chanting, and gathering supporters along the way. In addition to deep concerns about Pearson’s testing and textbook contracts in K-12 schools, the group emphasized Pearson’s influence in shaping what is called the TPA or Teacher Performance Assessment.
As part of current education reforms initiated through the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top program, many states have adopted new teacher certification processes that require teaching candidates to pay anywhere between $300 to $1000 to take Pearson-created and -assessed examinations evaluated by thinly trained assessors. Lost in the outcries in opposition to state testing, charter schools, and student data privacy over the past several years has been the comparable damage state and federal officials have inflicted on teacher education. As future teachers are preparing to teach children, they are increasingly subjected themselves to assessments and evaluations that are unsupported by educational research, recklessly implemented, and inherently inequitable.
Pearson holds a corporate allure that state officials and organizations like NCTE choose not to resist. If states and educational organizations continue to enable corporations to direct what teachers and students learn, their constituents might just rise up and demand change. It happened in Minnesota today, leaving Pearson’s halo ever so slightly askew.
CLARIFICATION: The protest originated within the Commission on Social Justice, which is part of the Conference on English Education and NCTE.