Multi-state agreement could block payments to teachers

Chris Rizo Sep. 11, 2008, 12:30pm

Drew Edmondson (D)

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline)-A group of at least 34 state attorneys general are working toward an agreement that would end payments to teachers by a private non-profit research firm that sells marketing data to colleges.

Educational Research Center of America paid teachers for doing surveys of junior and senior high school students and then sold the data to colleges.

The Lynbrook, N.Y.-based company was giving teachers $40 and $50 gift cards as an incentive to have their students complete the surveys, which asked such things as students' ethnic backgrounds, honors won, participation in extracurricular activities and religious affiliation.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the pending deal would require the company to disclose to students how to opt out of completing the surveys, and the company will stop providing teachers with gift cards as an incentive.

"ERCA formerly gave teachers $40 and $50 gift cards to places like Staples and Office Max in return for their students' participation in the survey process," Edmondson said.

"The company than sold the students' survey data to colleges and business for marketing purposes. Neither the commercial use of the information nor how to opt out of the survey was disclosed to students or to the parents of students under 18," he added.

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