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 40 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
Outside New York City
Long Island Schools or Districts:
# # #
** 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.