Opinion: Sheila Montague


An in depth look at who we're really fighting

By Sheila Montague

The Newark Public School system is currently in the process of completing the first round of district mandated PARCC testing. The PARCC test is yet another example of what is becoming of the world of education. Big business and profits have replaced real educational opportunities for students. This is a disturbing trend that has unfortunately become the norm rather than the exception, nationwide. As an educational advocate for the city of Newark, let me add my voice to the thousands upon thousands pleading for this gross injustice to cease. As citizens of the largest school district in the state of New Jersey, we need to be the strongest and loudest voice in saying no to the PARCC exam; a money making scam by big business hidden under the veil of educational reform. 

Spearheading the charge of these corporate raiders is the Pearson Corporation, which has rapidly ascended to the forefront of the conversation on educational reform. Pearson’s reach has extended with blinding quickness to envelope the world of education. Backed by huge corporations and conglomerates, Pearson is striving for an economic monopoly on the field of education. Big money machines such as Teach for America, The Libyan Investment group and the Koch brothers all have close ties and financial stakes in Pearson. They make investments and sit back and collect while Pearson bulldozes over any and all competition in a push to profit from education. How is this linked to us and the PARCC exam, you may ask? Standardized testing and the cost to administer them are big business. And who manufactures the PARCC exam? You guessed it: The Pearson group.

Pearson was instrumental in pushing the initiatives linked to Race to The Top; something they have profited handsomely from in numerous ways. One of the means of profit, being the fact that Race to the Top requires significant data accumulation, Pearson partnered with the Gates Foundation to be the ones to store the data. Pearson also partnered with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State Schools Officers. This gives them a tremendous level of influence on reform and policy. When the plan for the Common Core Standards was hatched, Pearson had input into the process. The Pearson group paid to fly the policymakers to Singapore for extravagant “education” trips to promote the educational methods that they want to put into place. All of these investments have resulted in millions and millions of dollars worth of profits at the expense of what is best for children.

As an advocate for underprivileged students of color and an educator of more than 20 years, I have made it my business to know what is going on in the world of education and politics. An insidious plan is afoot and our children will be the ones who suffer for it if we do not stand up and fight back. And If we are to fight back, we need to know who were fighting against. The Pearson group is at the top of that list. Join me and my community based organization, CTLT (Changing The Lens Together ), as we strive to push back against the corporate raiders who seek to profit off of us and our community. Together we can change the lens and achieve excellence for our children.

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