Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pearson Corporation (Thanks, Arne): Reprise

Pearson Corporation (or Race to the Money) (BTW, thanks, Arne)  

Noun: Pearson Limited Company is a London-based publishing corporation, although it has a secondary listing on the NYSE due to its financial holdings and operations in North America.  There are several divisions of Pearson, ranging from financial publishing (Financial Times newspapers), Penguin publishing, and education publishing (primarily testing and test design).  Pearson is considered one of the largest book publishers in the world.  In fact, beyond its current operations and holdings, Pearson’s real business acumen in the burgeoning field of educational politics is displayed over and over again in its futuristic projects and plans based upon the movement in education from a public responsibility to a private for-profit enterprise.

As Naomi Klein warned us in Shock Doctrine, private enterprise looks for any opportunity in crisis or sudden change to establish an adaptable revenue source for profit, and nothing was ever so financially fertile as our “great national crisis” in education and the urgent need for political remedies.   

The introduction of Dubya’s NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and the furtherance of Obama’s RttT (Race to the Top) have provided multiple designs to remedy the “national crisis in public education” through the use of standardized testing – testing that measures a school’s effectiveness, a teachers’ effectiveness, and a student’s inabilities through a series of bubble tests which are being administered in increasing numbers of school districts for largely increasing amounts of time during each student’s academic year. 

In fact, in some cases, student testing this next year will double in order that some companies may “field test” the reliability of test questions placed among other questions that will count toward the student’s, teacher’s, and district’s performance ( ).  Of course, no one has suggested that such field-testing of minors without permission of parents might be considered an inappropriate use of instructional time or even illegal; in short, this speaks to the maddening acceptance of standards testing as a primary part of the educational program in our school systems.  Forget the comprehensive program or the variability in region or child: nowadays all good schools should be able to provide a similar sound and ready product measurably alike in specific skill sets determined necessary for the workplace.  And, in fact, there are four large corporations ready and willing to help us all in assessing who makes the grade and who doesn’t.

Harcourt Educational Measurement: London-based developer of the SAT-9, and designer of tests that require passing before graduation in several States.  Standards testing is now 70% of the company’s overall business ($5.6 billion annually in revenue).
CTB McGraw Hill: New York based corporation that developed TerraNova, a norm-referenced test.  Provides testing for 19 states in U.S. and achieves $4.2 billion in revenues per annum..
Riverside Publishing: Developer of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a norm-referenced test taken by 4-5 million students in the U.S.  Also a major publisher of texts for at least eight states in the U.S.  Parent company was Houghton-Mifflin, acquired by Vivendi, Inc.  in 2001 for $2.2 billion.
Pearson: The largest test scorer internationally, and providing testing and scoring services in the largest markets in the U.S., including New York, Texas, Florida.  At this time, moving beyond just testing to other aspects of education.   Revenue = $9 billion in 2010 (

Pearson remains most exceptional in its corporate ability and vision to move quickly and prominently to align itself with current political forces to achieve what it and they see as the future of education.  In addition, Pearson has even acquired the kinds of learning institutions that represent what it considers the future of learning, and the company has developed an international plan to do so on a global level.

Pearson now has designs to change the way and manner in which individuals achieve or receive GED’s, one which will become a profit-making enterprise for the company
(  ). In addition, Pearson has promoted heavily the concept of CCSS (Common Core State Standards) and provided a national summit for educators and politicians in Orlando, Florida, to cement the implementation of services in the coming year(s) ( ).  In fact, Pearson’s exemplary initiative to influence would-be parties has come under the scrutiny of the New York Attorney General, who questions the relationship between the $32 million contract to provide testing for NY schools and the “free trips” provided across the state to educational officials to visit places like London, Helsinki, Singapore, or even Rio de Janeiro.  (  And let’s not forget the current lobbyist for Pearson in Washington is the same fellow who helped Congress and Dubya draft legislation for the original NCLB.  (  Estimates of lobby spending by Pearson on the state level reach nearly $3 million for 2009-2011 ( 

On the other hand, if people are willing to pay to be “educated,” why not get into the business of education?  And that’s what Pearson has done wholeheartedly!  Seen any Phoenixes lately?  They appear in commercials every so often during afternoon talk shows with their ilk – lawyers for injury reparation, cheap car insurance, etc.  University of Phoenix is a recent acquisition by Pearson, a company who can see the future of education – a means to make money through on-line, instruction-less opportunity.  A close friend of mine who had the misfortune of teaching a Phoenix class once told me he had to spend nearly 80% of the time explaining why the school was so good in his carefully monitored lessons.

Finally, Pearson has a global plan too, my friends.  If America provides a wealth of money in the conversion to for-profit education, why not a developing country?  Pearson is currently designing for-profit chains of schools in Africa and Asia in order to establish a new market share.  In fact, Pearson plans to open a chain/franchise of schools in Ghana (Africa) called Omega Schools to fund low-cost education for profit.  ( ) Unsuspecting and relatively poor governments in these countries see some escape from having to fund public schools (sounds like Rahm in Chicago?), and Pearson, whose caption “Learning-the-Pearson-Way” is so convincing will handle it all.  The plan is to offer lessons for the people’s children for as little as $3 per month.  Sounds good?  On the other hand, when one realizes that $3 per month for farmers and workers living at subsistence levels may be significantly more than they can afford –and certainly more than what was a free public education – the plan starts to lose some of its luster.  In addition, the poorer people would need to determine which of their children would receive the education at that significant expense, quite probably cutting off the possibility of learning for girls or others in their family.  But Pearson representatives say it will provide a wonderful, uniform education for all of the children in Ghana.  Well, maybe some of them.  But then again, sooner or later Ghana will need testing to see if they really are learning in the new Omega School system.  No need to wonder who will be there to provide help – at a cost.

1 comment:

  1. NICE BLOG!!! Education is the process of bringing desirable change into the behavior of human beings. It can also be defined as the “Process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or habits through instruction or study”. Thanks for sharing a nice information.
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