New York officials signed a $32 million five-year contract with Pearson PLC 's subsidiary, NCS Pearson Inc., in 2011 for its Common Core test merchandise. Pearson, a British consortium, is the world's most influential purveyor of educational supplies and holds numerous contracts with New York and other states. Texas, for example, is paying Pearson $462 million for its five-year contract.
Unknown at the time, the Pearson/New York agreement stipulated that the 2014 spring exams would be classified and not subject to public review or educators' criticism. In response to Elizabeth Phillips' April 10 NYT's Op-Ed " We need to Talk About the Test ," Pearson says that the state is responsible for the gag order.
Public funds paid for the Pearson contract so it is unlikely that if challenged the suppression order will withstand judicial scrutiny but it is concerning that one or both of the parties believed they could stifle free speech.
The Washington Post revealed last year that Pearson has an unsatisfactory performance history. Alan Singer amplifies the company's failings on the Ravitch blog.
Mr. Singer shares the following sobering information regarding Pearson:
Pearson Education owns the publishers Adobe , Scott Foresman , Penguin , Longman , Wharton , Harcourt , Puffin , Prentice Hall , and Allyn & Bacon . They are deeply involved in test assessment producing the National Assessment of Educational Progress , the Stanford Achievement Test , the Millar Analogy Test, the New York City special high school admissions test, and the G.E.D . Through interlocking boards of directors, partnerships, and donation’s from the company’s foundation, they have developed relationships with the largely online University of Phoenix , Teach for America , Stanford University, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Gates , Lumina , Broad , and Walton Foundations.The American Legislative Exchange Council [ ALEC] chose the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers as its Common Core sales agents. ALEC favors privatizing public education.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aligned with the Pearson Foundation in 2011 to pursue its Common Core mission. In December 2013 NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman , collected $7.7 million from the Pearson Foundation following his allegations of improper use of charitable funds.
It appears from various news sources that Common Core gag orders exist outside the state of New York. An example is the testimony of Susan Kimball, a Missouri kindergarten teacher. Ms. Kimball told state senators in March:
I have been strongly discouraged from saying anything negative about Common Core by my administration and some school board members.
In a professional development meeting, um, inservice in November, and at a faculty meeting in January, we were told in my building, and I quote, ‘Be careful about what you post on Facebook, or talk about in the public regarding Common Core. Don’t say anything negative. It could affect your job.’Unless we the people say "This shall not stand," the Common Core cartel will control every facet of the American education system.