Florida pays International Pearson Inc. millions of dollars to administer the FCAT during its current five year contract – $249 million dollars to be exact.
But Pearson also spends money – up to $800,000 – to lobby state legislators, as central Florida’s WFTV reports.
Public records show Pearson spent at least $580,000 on lobbyists since 2007. This is two years before Pearson’s current contract.
WFTV confirmed Pearson does not donate to individual legislators, but has donated to political action committees that have pushed lawmakers to increase testing and raise the standards.
Pearson uses the lobbying firm Uhlfelder & Associates.
In a response, Steve Uhlfelder from Uhlfelder & Associates said:
My many legal and government relations services have included providing substantive policy information on instructional resources, assessments, digital products and services and virtual learning.
On many of these issues, I work with numerous government relations professionals including other publishers. My efforts are dedicated to educating elected officials and other policy makers around what is possible and advisable in those areas of our expertise, such as instructional resources and assessment.
Adam Gaber with Pearson also responded to WFTV’s investigation:
We do not participate in partisan politics. Rather, our efforts are dedicated to informing elected officials and other policy makers around what is possible and advisable in those areas of our expertise, such as instructional resources, digital products and services and virtual learning.
We seek to be the non-partisan source of data and information upon which these people can construct and enact policies which promote the best outcomes for students, teachers, and administrators at all levels.