(NEW YORK)– PEN America today urged the state of California to allow two Stanford University researchers to testify about learning losses during the Covid-19 pandemic. The state’s Department of Education attempted to block the testimony of researchers Sean Reardon and Thomas Dee, citing breach of contract.

The scholars, experts in K-12 education, had research agreements with California, which, according to the state, included a data partnership agreement that prevented them from testifying against the state in any litigation. The Department of Education threatened to fine the scholars $50,000 and cut off state funds for research if they testified.

In response, PEN America’s Kristen Shahverdian, senior manager of free expression and education, said: “What the state of California is doing to these researchers is censorship. When the state interferes with scholars’ academic freedom to apply their work to critical cases of public interest, we should all be alarmed. And this threat deprives not only these scholars, but the rights of the student plaintiffs in the case to have expert testimony and a fair hearing. These experts should be allowed to testify without delay.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057