Lessons Learned? Pearson Royals Aided by Indiana Arnolds

Despise Not Your Enemy

I felt compelled to post this in the hopes that you might take it and show it to your principals, your superintendents, your school board members and your state school board members.

What follows is a fact but also a truth.  Rare to find them together these days.  This is not “credible research” it is economic reality–bare fact.

From an editorial in the Dallas Morning News on 2/14/12, “Open rebellion against standardized school tests in Texas.”

Take a look at the following email, which State Board of Education member George Clayton sent me after I posted the Scott transcript. Clayton, who works for DISD, illustrates the money and the pressures involved in high-stakes testing in a state as large as Texas. Powerful stuff:

Sir: The exchange between Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott and myself dealt with the heavy burden state mandated testing has on effective teaching and learning in Texas classrooms.Because of the vigorous punitive measures taken against districts, schools and teachers when scores are below minimum expectations, most districts have created a test based local curriculum. In many school districts, mandated common assessments directly linked to the state exam are required to be given every two weeks. In a school with 1,500 students and four core subject areas, that multiplies out to 108,000 tests.

Add to that the state required standardized tests, district benchmark tests, district mid and end of year testing, test warranted by the teacher’s actual lessons and a battery of test dealing with our immigrant population, you will get a picture of how education has devolved into a mire of testing, data disaggregation, and more additional frustrations for dedicated teachers.

What drives this kind of education? In Texas, it might be the one hundred million dollars paid every year to the test publisher.

Last year, the first year of a new state five-year contract with Pearson Educational Measurement–the publisher–Texas taxpayers paid out that sum. The same amount was paid for this year’s test.

By the end of the current contract, Pearson will have been paid one half billion dollars. All of this is happening at a time of deep budget cuts in education, school closings, overcrowded classrooms and, worst of all, teacher dismissals.

So, you see, it is not a perversion; it is a reality.

As an educator and and education official in this state, I have made it my crusade to expose and ultimately end this travesty in our schools.

George M

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. Clayton, member
Texas State Board of Education, District 12
Chairman, Committee on Instruction

Here’s an article in Forbes on a New York state investigation into Pearson, “No Educator Left Behind: Pearson, Leading Scorer of Standardized Tests, Subpoenaed.”

The New York Attorney General’s office launched an investigation this week into whether or not the education and testing of the state’s school children was sold to the highest bidder. A cloud of suspicion surrounds the Pearson Foundation, a nonprofit subsidiary of publicly traded Pearson Education Inc. (NYSE:PSO), the nation’s largest educational publisher and subject of a previous Crotty on Forbes column. The Pearson Foundation is being investigated for potentially lobbying state education officials improperly and footing the bill for those officials to take trips to numerous international locales.

According to the New York Times, subpoenas reportedly issued to the Pearson Foundation and Pearson Education, Inc. by the office of the Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, are seeking documents and information related to their activities with state education officials. Those activities include trips to “educational conferences,” and expensive accommodations and more at those conferences, in overseas destinations such as Singapore, London, Helsinki and Rio de Janeiro.

Pearson Education, Inc. was recently awarded a five-year $32 million contract to administer state testing in New York. However, eyebrows were raised back in 2010 when,  following a conference in London, Pearson received a $1 million testing services contract with the New York State Department of Education. The conference was bankrolled by the Pearson Foundation and was attended by former New York State Education Commissioner David M. Steiner.

Our own Doug Martin reported on the way that Pearson is embedded (it’s appropriate when discussing war and corporate battle strategy to apply the same lexicon) in the chain of ownership.  Again, we have to always stress that any “good” that comes out of these relationships is incidental and as such is tainted with the larger corruption.  From “Jeb Bush’s Privatization Plan for Indiana Public Schools.”

After paying George H.W. to promote its defense, energy, and security industries, the Carlyle Group, a private equity investment firm, has branched out into the for-profit education business, funding SchoolNet, a data-driven decision software outfit recently acquired by Pearson, the educational mega-company, to offer services in Indiana and elsewhere. Pearson has made a killing off of grading standardized tests since NCLB was passed, and brother Neil Bush’s Ignite! Learning computer/projector educational company was handed almost $1 million from the Department of Education.

You can find any number of press releases from Pearson touting their tentacled reach into Indiana education and often enough it’s accompanied by some forked speech of IN State Super Bennett.  These two, Bennett and Pearson, have been a beast with two backs for several years now.  Here, on the Technical Panel: National Review of Education Schools formed by the “National Council on Teacher Quality,” sits beast one and two: Chief Ed Adviser for Pearson (a Knight of the Round Table, so noble) Sir Michael Barber and IN Super of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett (a poor genealogy by comparison, but sitting on the same panel, so proud!).

Just so you’re aware, the NCTQ is entirely funded by private foundations–no sunshine available there.  Are you getting the picture finally?  Here, to broaden that picture is a list of corporations that are “grouped” under Pearson at “OpenCorporates.”

One might wonder at the vertical ladder presented there regarding information and education systems: THE business news daily; an education products company; a publishing company specializing in texts for schools; a “qualifications” company providing examinations for UK schools.  I think it’s clear what this family of companies is selling: mis- and dis- information serving the purse.

Look, the people we excoriate daily are just managerial worker bees intent on shoving money aside for themselves and pushing dollars upstream for the Owners be they Queens or Robber Barons.  It’s that simple.  All “panel” advice, all research, all academic departments are beholden to the wishes of the owners.

What we do know after a review of any educational research in testing over decades of for-profit-investigations is that testing reveals little that wasn’t already known and discovered by the ears and eyes of teachers and that technology does less than a caring human can.  Surprised?  So why, you must ask, are we handing it all over to technology grifters?

Suckers, Pearson would say, Tony Bennett would say, Mitch Daniels would say, Bill Gates would say, Joel Klein would say, Michelle Rhee would say, Lord Burns would say, are born every nano-second.  And they will be educated to remain suckers.  Pearson’s tag line in their secondary education division is “Always Learning”–always learning how to manipulate you.  Why aren’t we learning?  Because we’re bombarded with their propaganda on a daily basis.  Fifty of you will read this and even fewer will share or ask questions about this; millions will believe in the corporate beneficence of Pearson and their like.  They own the ways we communicate and they buy collusion with grants and “training” vacations and the promise of lucrative private sector jobs for those who do their dirty work on the inside of the systems.

Possibly you imagine our academic research institutions offer impartial research that might challenge the corporate narrative?  No.  It’s all bought and paid for as well.  As an example, recently Indiana’s own form of Royalty, Eli Lilly, bought the Indiana Public Policy Institute for $6.6M–er, excuse me…they awarded funds in order to create “stability” in order to allow “credible  research to be produced.”  Hmmm…you know what a product is, right?  And you know what credible means, right?

(I wonder what Lilly pays Indiana in taxes…)

There you have it.  Research that is a product of design intention that will be believable.

Don’t buy it, Suckers–you know the bearded lady is a hoax, or rather, that she’s been given growth hormone developed at Lilly.

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  1. S.S. February 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    As someone very much steeped in health and nutrition research, as I was reading this post I realized that corporations are doing to education exactly what they have done to our food; funding studies to make people think they know what’s best/healthy under the guise of profit. Standardized testing is the high fructose corn syrup of education. If it’s made from corn, or education, it must be good for you, right?

    So, as we should not eat processed foods, nor should we accept processed education. Boxed foods are detrimental to our bodies, as boxed education is detrimental to our children’s minds. Give up the white bread and the rich, white educational agenda.

  2. Douglas Storm February 17, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Meals, Minds, Health…all in square boxes.

  3. focus February 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    one size fits all. Education for the masses, mass-produced by the corporations.
    I was unhappy to see Dorling Kindersley on this list as I actually like their books and have found them good educational tools for home learning–the kids can self direct their reading but I can also go through the books with them and discuss. ITis just as annoying as when I find what I think is a great organic food company and then do a little research and find out they are not a small, family business but part of a large corporate conglomerate.

    1. Douglas Storm February 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      the good, as we’ve said, is incidental. All that you have done with those DK books you could have done with other books or no books at all. the illusion of products creating desires that they “usefully” fulfill.

  4. Pingback: Some More Light Shed On New York’s Teacher Evaluations | assailedteacher

  5. The Assailed Teacher February 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I’m glad I have come across this post and this blog. It has been shared. Us teachers here in New York just had our tenure rights sold down the river by Race to the Top and our phony union. Now Pearson will doom the children of New York City with their fill-in-the-bubble exams. The teaching profession here is done for.


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