Friday morning, I flew to London to deliver our petition to Pearson’s board of directors at their annual shareholder meeting and make sure they understand that spying on students is simply not ok.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues from British teachers’ unions, social justice advocates and, most important, parents, we made our voices heard—in the room, outside the building and online.
It’s clear that we got their attention. But we’ll need to keep up the pressure to win this fight.
Watch the video from inside the shareholder meeting and share the petition demanding that Pearson stop spying on students and open its “test security” practices to full public review with your friends.
When I spoke, I asked Pearson for three clear things:
1. Stop spying on what kids say on social media, and immediately disclose the contract language and methods it uses for “test security.”
2. Stop lobbying for more high-stakes testing in the United States and abroad, and end campaign contributions to politicians who advocate for more testing.
3. Stop investing in so-called low-cost private schools in the developing world—schools that exploit the world’s poorest families and often cost more than 30 percent of a family’s income for just one child’s tuition.
When Pearson’s CEO responded, he spoke of the company’s desire to have a positive social impact. While he disputed the characterization that Pearson was spying, he said he understood the need to ensure teachers had time to implement new standards before being judged and that tests must be accurate and fair—and not used excessively. Certainly, that doesn’t go far enough, but it’s clear Pearson can no longer completely ignore our concerns.
But as my students at Clara Barton High School used to say, you can’t just talk the talk—you have to walk the walk. And step one for Pearson is to stop monitoring our kids, to disclose its contracts and to show us how its “test security” practices work.
I hope you’ll watch the video and share the petition.
Pearson must be held accountable for more than just shareholder value—it must take responsibility for the people whose lives are affected by its products and policies.
It won’t be an easy fight or a short one, but if we stand together, I believe we can hold Pearson accountable.