Last Week Right Now
Ordinarily, I'd fold a video a little further into my post, but I think it's important to start off with this one from John Oliver for a little background. The entire clip (eighteen minutes) is about standardized testing in general, but it's only the last eight or so that specifically pertain to me.
Last Week Tonight? Mmm…no. Try Last Week Right Now.
I hope you've never been under the impression that the people scoring your children's tests are experienced educators because—at least at Pearson—you'd be sadly mistaken. All they ask for is a bachelors and (probably) proof of citizenship. (I don't even remember if they ever interviewed me the first time.) Oh and the degree has to be in hand…I tried signing up in 2010, but since Everglades wasn't going to mail me my degree until after the project was over, they couldn't hire me.
(I'm not trying to put myself down by including this picture…just using it symbolically to mean "no one special". Incidentally, this was taken eight months after I finished my bachelors.)
John isn't wrong about how Pearson sources their staff, either. When I signed on eight years ago, it was after seeing an ad in the classifieds. (What is Craigslist other than a massive global classified section, anyway?) Despite the fact that I ended up leaving before the end of the project (more on that in a bit), they drew me from the lottery two more times, most recently at the beginning of the month.
I don't remember if I ever got a chance to state my preferences the first time. I'm guessing I did, because otherwise, I probably would've ended up with math a lot harder than third grade. I didn't get a chance to say I didn't want full time, though (I didn't know there was a part time option until I was actually there), so I had the wonderful luck to pry myself out of bed so I could be there at eight. I don't know how I ever made it without my anxiety freaking out, but maybe that's because it was saving itself for later…
We were packed almost elbow-to-elbow in what I think was a converted grocery store, because it still had the hydraulic door mats. I'd say there were five rows of five computers each, and then the sixth had three laptops for the supervisors, who sat facing us. The cafeteria—such as it was—was packed even tighter, and we had to take our breaks/meals in shifts because there were so many of us. We didn't have to ask permission to go to the bathroom, but that's probably because they kept it refrigerator cold (undoubtedly so we wouldn't linger).
I spent six. Fucking. Hours staring at triangles! It was supposed to be eight, but the guy to my right was a Pearson vet and warned me that if you didn't do things just so, they'd kick you to the curb so fast, your butt wouldn't have time to blister. My anxiety reared its ugly head so bad that I went home early and never went back.
My name came up in the lottery again in 2013 for the same fucking third grade Maryland triangles. I told them to get bent, but stupidly kept updating my application…which is how I got into this mess.
(The picture is a link to the relevant deviantArt page, by the way.)
(Also, new rule: if I use a permutation of “fuck” more than twice in a post where I’m relating something that happened to me, it’s automatically a rageblog.)
I got an email from Pearson April 2, with an offer to score ninth grade writing for the Texas STAAR, but I had to accept by the end of the day on the third. Thirty-two hours (or so) is a little tight, but I knew I wanted to take it, so it wasn't a problem. (Heck, I was so excited, I was doing a sort of "NO TRIANGLES!" dance! 😂)
Next phase was to get the usual paperwork done. I think they were a couple of days in getting my "onboarding" stuff to me, and even though it violated their deadline, I didn't think it was a problem if they didn't. I ran into a problem doing my i9 (a citizenship form) and I emailed them about it, but didn't get a response. Called scoring support, decided I didn't want to wait on hold and eventually found the place to raise a help ticket. It took them at least forty-eight hours to get back to me. At that point, I was a little concerned because it said I had to have the form filled out by the time I worked for them three days with pay, but I hadn't done that yet, so I didn't think it was a big deal.
In the meanwhile, I was supposed to "certify" (read: prove that I could see/grade papers the way they see them) between the fifth and the tenth. I didn't get the login info for that until the twelfth…and it was only when they said the deadline had been extended to the fourteenth did I realize they were running behind. (Again, no worries, because them being off track means they're not going to dock me for delays…right?) It took me two tries to pass certification, so even though I was originally supposed to do training April 11-14, I wasn't approved for it until the last day. Oh and I was supposed to do live training in one of four sessions…that ended Friday.
"Oh well," I thought, "I'll just do training as quickly as possible and catch up to the live scoring when I can." (The project was supposed to start yesterday and run to May 9.) "If they still want me to do live training, I'm sure they'll arrange something for me."
Sunday afternoon, I signed up for the 3-7 shift for yesterday (April 15). I login to the workspace…"we don't have anything scheduled for you."
Okay, fine. Maybe I dreamed booking myself for this shift.
Went to the booking site…yup, still there. (If you want to work that shift, it will say "submit"; if you change your mind, you hit "unsubmit".) Checked back in the workspace…same thing.
Went to raise a fresh ticket…"your login information is incorrect."
After just responding to the i9 ticket earlier? Ohhkay. Fine.
Called scoring support. After being on hold for a while and the rep taking forever to figure out what was going on, she announced that I'd been terminated April 5.
THEN WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST DO THIS WEEKEND, WORK FOR FREE?!
Terminated. Less than forty-eight hours after I hired on and before I could do any sort of training or anything.
What. The actual. FUCK?!
That rep said she was going to check into what happened and call back. She never did. (No surprise.)
Got a response to my ticket late last night:
Upon further review, this is to confirm that there is no action needed from your end regarding your Form I9 completion as of now.
Know what I said?
(No, not “your English is terrible”, though I sorely wanted to.)
Yeah, because I found out you fired me approximately 48 hours after I was hired and no one ever told me why.
It was very nice of all of you to string me along for two weeks and not have the gall to tell me until I couldn't login anymore.
If I believed in hell, I'd tell you to go rot in it.
I don't expect to get paid.
Or get answers.
Or anything, really.
I'd hire an attorney to go after them for my money, but it's so little that it's not worth it. (I was booked in for eight hours, but only worked a grand total of fifty-five minutes for certification purposes. So that's $96 before taxes at best and $12 at worst.)
Probably going to tell the attorney general, though. She'll want to know, especially if it turns out Pearson is still running scoring centers in the state.
I'll let a month lapse, though, just to be on the safe side. Stay tuned!
P.S. from September: Yes, I got paid, but this fiasco will ensure I never attempt to put up with their bullshit again. (Shame, though—if the certification papers were any indication, some of these kids have thought-provoking answers that would be [and were] a pleasure to read.)