Friday, June 7, 2013

Parents Present Pearson With $38 Million Invoice for Use of Child Labor for Field Tests


Press Contacts:
Kemala Karmen                              
Janine Sopp

For Immediate Release

Parents Create Invoice to Showcase the True Cost of NYSED/Pearson’s “Stand-Alone” June Field Tests:
$37, 991, 452

“The State Education Department Should Be COLLECTING from Pearson, Not Handing Out Our Tax Dollars for Tests of Dubious Value!”

New York City – Concerned parents, who wonder why it should be assumed that their children would serve as uncompensated research subjects in a commercial R & D product development process, have drawn up a bill, payable to the people of New York State, for the creator of the stand-alone field tests, Pearson LLC.

To arrive at a “Balance Due” of $37,991,452, parents calculated the value of their children’s free labor, including the opportunity costs of lost instructional time and resources, and added these to the real costs to schools of administering the June tests. They unveiled the invoice at a press conference held in front of Tweed Courthouse on the morning of June 6th. At that time, they also announced that at least 37 New York City schools had parents opt their children out of the tests; on Long Island, more than 30 schools saw test refusals. Organizers were also aware of resistance at 4 schools in the Westchester and Hudson regions. [List of schools at end of this document.]

The design for the invoice, which originally enumerated only the services provided to Pearson by one child, emerged in the lead-up to 2012’s parent-coordinated campaign against the tests.  It encapsulated the resentment parents felt; their children were being inducted into a study without their parents’ informed consent, and without any direct benefit to the students or their schools. “If Pearson wants to use my daughter to ‘field test’ during the school day,” opined Brooklyn parent Johanna Henry, “they will have to pay us, and they need to get in touch with me in order to negotiate a fair price.  I will use the money to provide my child an enjoyable and relevant learning experience.’”

This year, as parents continue to fight the field tests, the invoice has been expanded to reflect that NYSED gives away to for-profit Pearson the services of 434,000 3rd through 8th graders (a number derived, in part, by assuming average class size). These services would be worth $32,550,000 (if child labor were legal), an amount roughly equal to the sum ($32,136,276) that New York State has contracted to pay Pearson for 5 years of test development. Moreover, the State essentially donates to Pearson the salaries of the teachers ($1,541,250) and assistant principals ($753,519) who coordinate and administer the tests.*

Former DOE analyst Fred Smith, who provided technical assistance with the invoice to parents from grassroots groups Change the Stakes and ParentVoicesNY, was alarmed. “Usually corporations and foundations make charitable contributions or donations
to public institutions or to support public works,” said Smith.  “Here, SED has arranged it so that we, the client or end-users are giving away time, money and opportunity to the benefit of a private company.”

The invoice also includes a line for taxes that the state could be collecting from Pearson for its unreimbursed expenses. The tax bill alone comes in at more than $3 million, a scenario that especially rankles during a time when schools are being asked to do more with less. “Our schools are being cut to the bone, but city and state education officials always manage to find staggeringly large sums of money for all these tests and test prep materials,” claimed Sharmeela Mediratta, a Queens parent whose daughter did not take the field test.

Organizations who contributed to our list of 2013 field test opt outs include: Change the Stakes, ParentVoicesNY, Restore Education Funding – Nyack/Valley Cottage, Time Out From Testing, Long Island Opt Out (list in formation)
# # #

Schools Where Parents are Participating in the Field Test Boycott
This list is growing, as not all schools have administered tests yet and we are not in touch with all schools where opt outs are happening. At this point there are 37 in NYC and at least 34+ outside of the city. (Long Island submitted the names of districts rather than individual schools, of which 30+ saw opt outs)
Schools in New York City
  East Village Community School
Neighborhood School
Earth School
  PS 40/Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Ella Baker School
Institute for Collaborative Education
  PS 75/Emily Dickinson
 PS 87/William Sherman
  Central Park East I
  PS 173
  3 schools in District 3 who wish to remain anonymous
  PS 8
PS 9 - Teunis G Bergen
 PS 11 -Purvis J Behan
PS 132 - The Conselyea School
PS 257 - John F Hylan
PS 15 - Patrick F Daly
PS 29 - John M Harrigan
PS 39 - Henry Bristow
PS 58 - The Carroll School
MS 88 - Peter Rouget
PS 107 - John W Kimball
The Brooklyn New School
PS 154 - Magnet School for Science and Technology
PS 230 - Doris L Cohen
PS 261 - Philip Livingston
PS 295 - Studio School of Arts and Culture
PS 321 - William Penn
The Children's School
 New Voices Middle School
 MS 447 - The Math and Science Exploratory School
 MS 448 - Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies
 PS 139 - Rego Park
 JHS 157 - Stephen A Halsey
 PS 122 - Mamie Fay

Outside New York City

Lenape Elementary, New Paltz, NY
New Paltz Middle School
Nyack Middle School
Upper Nyack Elementary School
Long Island Schools or Districts:
North Merrick
East Meadow
Bayport Blue Point
Middle Country
Miller Place
Valley Stream Central High District 1
East Meadow
Bellmore Merrick
Mt. Sinai
East Islip
Sachem Samoset Brentwood UFSD
Middle Country
# # #

** Anatomy of a Giveaway
Invoice to Pearson:
Figuring that half a day will be devoted to the field tests and administrative logistics:
For half an AP's daily salary = $753,519.  That's 3,614 x $208.50.
For half a Teacher's daily salary = $1,541,250.  That's 12,330 x $125.00.


  1. Great Letter. I'm just starting to understand what is going on. Will continue to educate myself about these injustices to our children. If I make a copy of this letter, where do I send it, besides the governor of NY? Does it pay to send it on to my school district?

    1. It pays to send this to anyone who should become more and more aware of how our state is squandering it's tax dollars on private entities ready to suck our schools dry. Send a copy to the Governor, to Pearson and to your district. Help your district understand what you are beginning to see. Many, far too many, are blind to this.

  2. You can add Mount Sinai (LI) where students also opted out of field testing!

  3. Righteous! We had field tests in our school, as well. I didn't see IS 61 in district 24 on the list.

    1. This list is for any school that had parents and students opt out from taking the test. If IS61 had any opt outers,
      let us know! There are 1361 schools in NYC alone on the list to take the test. Some with multiple grades.
      Opting out is one way to stay NO to this practice.

  4. Excellent letter! I will definitely post the link!

  5. We had several schools in the Pine Bush Central School district taking field tests last week. Most parents up here are completely unaware about what is going on. I am part of a small anti-high stakes testing group that will be bringing our resolution to the Board of Education this week. The momentum is slowly building!

  6. There should be an ecological footprint analysis of testing, too. How many trees get chopped down annually to make the paper products associated with this testing system? Get the conservationists on board with our agenda, too.

  7. The alternatives seem to be:

    1) Don't test

    2) Pearson pay's for the time, and then passes the cost back in higher charges for the final product.

  8. I have my children in the Hudson Valley School and there is none of this testing going on.... So you can add that to the list!!

  9. Seems like the issue is not as much with the company as it is with the schools--seeing as it is the school officials who elected to loan/rent the students to the company. So perhaps the bill should have been submitted to the school officials, and payable to the individual students. Otherwise, the entire thing is just an ideologically-driven farce.

    Well, if you turn over the guardianship of your children to the government schools, I reckon you shouldn't be surprised when they act as if they own them.


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