Citizens' Voice is a platform for people-driven news and opinion. Be the opinion leader. Write and submit an 800-word op-ed with a one sentence bio and head shot.
Journalist Naomi Wolf offers some useful guidelines for writing an op-ed - Read More
by Morna McDermott
Since when does one singular textbook company makes all the educational decisions that highly trained and experienced teachers with PhD’s who earned their degree used to make? Teacher education has been regulated for decades in America by such institutions as State Departments of Education. But a state-by-state wave of round of educational redesign and legislation represents a corporate takeover of public schools and colleges for private profit.
This “education reform” tsunami is sweeping over American Kindergarten through 12the Grade education – in order to turn schools, and children, into profit centers for hedge-fund managers, educational entrepreneurs, and textbook companies – especially the textbook giant Pearson.
The center of the profit center? The “Teacher Professional Assessment “ (TPA). This assessment was developed by The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Stanford University. This new form of teacher preparation assessment – skills assessment -- is going national- fast.
Twenty-four participating states plus the District of Columbia now comprise the Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium , which includes representatives from state education agencies and more than 140 institutions of higher education. The economic machine behind it all? Recently, TPA forged an exclusive deal with Pearson.
According to Pearson’s own website:
Pearson will provide Stanford University with the assessment services to deliver the TPA nationally, …. Pearson will also provide services such as the recruitment, training and certification of all scorers, scoring for all submitted TPA responses, and the generation of all official score reports to candidates and institutions of record (i.e., standard boards, state agencies, Institutions of Higher Education, including alternative preparation pathways).
To support the operational and ongoing implementation of TPA nationally as a sustainable state level licensure assessment system after the 2011-12 field test, Pearson will charge an operational assessment fee to candidates for all states that formally adopt through legislation or regulation the TPA for licensure and/or accreditation.”
Pearson has made 45 billion already testing kindergarten through 12th grade in state tests to which many parents object. This new venture will swell Pearson’s stock portfolios even further – with our schools’ state revenues and assessment fees.
Accompanying this push to assess teachers – for money for Pearson – is a drive to create alternative routes from the traditional colleges of education, to teacher licensing. These alternative routes including the right-wing reformers’ darling, Teach for America (TFA). These new alternative routes are being boosted by corporate ‘education reformers’ gunning to eliminate the power of educational colleges.
This new state--by-state legislation forcing schools to adopt the corporate-funding curriculum called “Common Core” corporate required testing measures, and corporate new teacher evaluations, eliminates parents’ and students’ consumer choice. The TPA is aligned with “Common Core State Standards.” The economics of the “Common Core” curriculum are also profit-driven: substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3004, susanohanian.org, educationalchemy.org, atthechalkface.com and schoolsmatter.org. These bills funnel state taxpayer dollars for education over to Pearson as the sole provider of nearly all educational resources available to all the schools.
Is that a free market?
Barabra Madeloni is a lecturer at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst who objected to using Pearson’s TPA:“The attempt to impose a corporate sponsored standard assessment on … teachers is one more example of the corporatization of public education and the surveillance, silencing and demands for obedience that accompany it.”
She refused to use Pearson’s TPA this past spring. One result? The University of Massachussetts is not renewing her teaching contract for fall 2013.
But there are many more of us teachers out there, who support Madeloni’s position.
According to the anti-corporatizing of public education group United Opt Out (unitedoptout.com) “Just as new legislation is passed, as new educational mandates are set, Pearson is suddenly able to provide the legions of educators and school systems clamoring for some kind of answer with just the right product. How can this be? In recent years, this once relatively small publishing house turned itself into a massive provider of a range of educational products, from traditional print materials for the K-12 sector, higher education resources and technology solutions for public school systems. It is one thing to have various products to sell and to allow the marketplace to judge their success or failure. It is another matter to reorganize the rules so that Pearson products are all one needs to buy to satisfy a range of emerging Federal and State education mandates.”
Sir Michael Barber is the current Chief Education Advisor for Pearson. Barber is a powerful advocate for the free-market approach to education – which includes union-busting, and turning public schools into privately-run, profit-generating charters. Barber writes:
(In Britain) we've had 18 years of reform with a series of consistent threads: devolution of resources, strong accountability, setting standards, national tests and introduction of school inspection …; designing all the materials at the national level and training everybody in a cascade out; using the accountability system to publish results and school inspection to check that people were adopting better practices. Essentially it's about creating different forms of a quasi-market in public services, exploiting the power of choice, competition, transparency and incentives,….”
And Pearson and Barber are getting their way – now throughout America: in Chicago, in California, and throughout the nation. Through the tracking of value added data of students taught by these teacher candidates during and after they graduate can be directly traced back not only to the university but to individual professors.
This new legislation states “that prospective teachers couldn't graduate from these programs unless they demonstrated that they could actually boost student achievement” and that furthermore, “States that choose to participate in the program would have to designate state ‘authorizers,’ who would approve and oversee the academies.”
Transparency is demanded of teachers – but not of the education policy makers, with their incestuous ties to educational corporations. These influencers weave together a nearly impenetrable web of legislation and educational requirements, pumping profits by mandating more regulation for everyone else – and a monopoly of profit for themselves.
But there is hope. There is resistance afoot. For more information on how corporations are destroying public education and privatizing it, and how to fight the corporate takeover. Visit United Opt Out National at unitedoptout.com. Join the fight. We have called for a Boycott of Pearson products and services. We are organizing university faculty in solidarity with Barabara Madeloni, who are willing to resist selling out their profession through forced fealty to Pearson.
In New York, parents and teachers are holding a “field trip to the Pearson field tests” protest at the steps of Pearson on June 7th and are conducting a boycott of the Pearson field tests. See ednotesonline.blogspot.com for information about these New York events.
Morna McDermott has been an educator for over twenty years. She is an Associate Professor of Education and an Administrator for United Opt Out National.