Updated: 08/12/2014 9:13 AM
Created: 08/11/2014 11:38 PM WNYT.com
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - Educators became demonstrators in downtown Albany Monday night, with hundreds of area school teachers determined to keep private corporation money out of the public education system.
Even though teachers gave an "A" effort, the most prominent letter was the letter "C": For Common Core, controversial contract, and Campbell Brown.
It was a well-organized lesson plan of protest carried out by more than 500 teachers on the steps of the State Education Department building. The main mission was to remove what they believe to be growing corporate influence in New York's public schools and colleges.
"There was a Roman philosopher who once said that you create a desert and called it paradise,"Fred Kowal, president of the United University Professions, began, "Pearson created exams and they call it education. It's not education, it's more like ignoration."
Pearson is the private company that has a $33 million contract with SED to design standardized tests for New York school children. It was that contract that demonstrators symbolically put through shredders on the steps of SED.
"Their primary goal is to silence the voice of teachers," said Karen Magee, president of NYSUT. "After all, what could teachers possibly know about education?"
Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, which has two and a half million members, was there to tell the educators they weren't alone in their struggle.
"Your fight to protect the future of our children is everybody's fight," Cilento said.
"Private will always put the interests of their shareholders ahead of the interests of our students," Magee said, "That is not acceptable."
The teachers' outrage comes at a time when former network news anchor Campbell Brown has been traveling the country, on her own corporate-backed crusade to privatize public education.
"We're opposed to Campbell Brown and other deep-pocketed idealogues who want to take away fairness and due process from our teachers," Magee said.
Demonstrators who are hoping state lawmakers hear their cries, appear to have a friend in Colonie Assemblyman Phil Steck (D - Colonie), who says he's personally appalled that the state is spending $33 million for standardized testing.
"It's a waste of money that should b e put in the classroom and to support hiring more teachers," Steck says, "that's really what makes the kids learn."
According to researchers at the University of Southern California, corporate foundations such as Gates, Walton, and Dell, along with other private philanthropies, spend at least $6 billion annually to influence education policy.