Archives for category: Pearson

Denny Taylor is Professor Emerita of Literacy Studies at Hofstra University. She has won many awards for her writing about literacy and literature. She is also the founder and CEO of Garn Press, which published the book I am reviewing (and also published Anthony Cody’s The Educator and the Oligarch).


Save Our Children, Save Our School, Pearson Broke the Golden Rule is a political satire about the current education “reform” movement. It takes place in an imaginary “Cafe Griensteidl” in New York City, at 72nd Street and Broadway, where the author and a friend meet for coffee. In this comedy, the leading players in the “reform” movement appear at the cafe and get into discussion or debate with the author. Nine powerful men happen to be in the cafe, including Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein, and Michael Barber (of Pearson). They banter with the author and her friend. She makes clear that these nine powerful men know nothing about education yet are taking control of the American public school system.


The men leave, and in the last “Act” of the book, twelve eminent female scholars (living and dead) talk about what is happening and the need to resist. The chapter is headed by this statement: “In which twelve venerable women scholars with more than 500 years of teaching experience refuse to capitulate to the demands made by nine rich men who have no teaching qualifications or teaching experience.” Hannah Arendt, Virginia Woolf, Simone Weil, Adrienne Rich, Yetta Goodman, Toni Morrison, and more are there. As the wise women speak, people come into the cafe and make YouTube videos, Tweet, or just listen. Yetta begins to rap. Horns honk. Traffic jams form at the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway. The women at the table clap along with Yetta’s rapping. The women talk about how to stop the corporate takeover of U.S. education.


Denny Taylor, sitting at the table with the great women, says, “Children have a right to a free and public education. For the pursuit of human knowledge and understanding that is free of corporate greed.”


“We should not have to ask permission for teachers to teach in developmentally appropriate ways that inspire and excite, and enhance our children’s incredible capacity to learn–


“–for the sheer joyfulness of their lives and for their lightness of being.”


The great women agree: We are and always will be defenders of every child’s right to a childhood free of despots and demons, except those they imagine when playing with friends….”


The author says, “Dump Pearson….Barber and Pearson are taking our children in the wrong direction,” she says. “His Whole System of Global Education Revolution is a global social catastrophe, a total system failure.”


Others ask how to stop this recklessness. The author responds, “The madness will stop if we refuse to participate. The struggle for democracy is always ground up….Make it a crime for oligarchs to interfere with democratic social systems. It’s vote tampering on a national scale.” She adds, referring to Bill Gates, “He’s violating the rights of fifty million children, jeopardizing their future. Send him to jail.”


“Tell Gates we choose decency and democracy and not the indecency of his oligarchy. He does not have the power to dictate how our children are taught in public schools.


“Tell him we refuse to participate in his Common Core experiments. Ban the use of galvanic skin devices in affective computing trials that he’s funded.


“Tell him to stop wasting his money. To spend it for the Common Good. Build new public schools. Create parks in poor urban neighborhoods. Make sure there are health centers. Medical care for everyone in the community.


“Tell him to put his money into Earth-friendly low-income housing.


“Libraries. Media centers.


“Work with local leaders. Make sure they’re not exploited…


“Pearson could too. Tell Barber we take back our independence. That US public schools are no longer under Pearson’s colonial rule.”


The book is funny, learned, and zany. If you want to order it, go to

Stephanie Simon reports in on a major investigation of Pearson and its extraordinary ability to profit from its activities, whether or not they are successful.


She writes:


A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas. The review also found Pearson’s contracts set forth specific performance targets — but don’t penalize the company when it fails to meet those standards. And in the higher ed realm, the contracts give Pearson extensive access to personal student data, with few constraints on how it is used.
POLITICO examined hundreds of pages of contracts, business plans and email exchanges, as well as tax filings, lobbying reports and marketing materials, in the first comprehensive look at Pearson’s business practices in the United States.
The investigation found that public officials often commit to buying from Pearson because it’s familiar, even when there’s little proof its products and services are effective.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, for instance, declined to seek competitive bids for a new student data system on the grounds that it would be “in the best interest of the public” to simply hire Pearson, which had done similar work for the state in the past. The data system was such a disaster, the department had to pay Pearson millions extra to fix it.
Administrators at the University of Florida also skipped competitive bids on a huge project to build an online college from scratch. They were in a hurry. And they knew Pearson’s team from a previous collaboration. That project hadn’t been terribly successful, but no matter: UF dug up the old contract and rewrote it to give Pearson the new job — a job projected to be worth $186 million over the next decade.
And two public colleges in Texas not only gave Pearson a no-bid contract to build online classes, they agreed to pay the company to support 40,000 enrollments, no matter how many students actually signed up.
Pearson has aggressive lobbyists, top-notch marketing and a highly skilled sales team. Until the New York attorney general cracked down in late 2013, Pearson’s charitable foundation made a practice of treating school officials from across the nation to trips abroad, to conferences where the only education company represented was Pearson.
The story of Pearson’s rise is very much a story about America’s obsession with education reform over the past few decades.
Ever since a federal commission published “A Nation at Risk” in 1983 — warning that public education was being eroded by “a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people” — American schools have been enveloped in a sense of crisis. Politicians have raced to tout one fix after the next: new tests, new standards, new classroom technology, new partnerships with the private sector.
K-12 superintendents and college administrators alike struggle to boost enrollment, raise graduation rates, improve academic outcomes — and to do it all while cutting costs.
In this atmosphere of crisis, Pearson promises solutions. It sells the latest and greatest, and it’s no fly-by-night startup; it calls itself the world’s leading learning company. Public officials have seized it as a lifeline.
“Pearson has been the most creative and the most aggressive at [taking over] all those things we used to take as part of the public sector’s responsibility,” said Michael Apple, a professor of education policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


And that is only a sampling of the contents of this explosive report. Read it to find out where your taxpayer dollars are going.


As an added bonus, Simon also wrote about how Pearson used its foundation to bolster its profits.
Read more:



Up to this point, Peter Greene has described. “Pearson’s new world order,” as explicated by Michael Barber and John Hill in their 88-page document.

Here he reveals the plans for implementation.

1. Think long-term. “So we have to think long term. The arrival of the assessment renaissance, like the Second Coming of Christ, will appear on a day unlooked for. Everyone best be ready.”

2. Build partnerships. “They particularly like the example of a competition to propose solutions (competitions are great because you can get lots of people to work for you, but you only have to pay the winners).”

3. Create the infrastructure, preferably by getting government to pay for it.

There is more. Read it and be informed.

“If you’ve never read Barber before, know this– he speaks repeatedly about changing the world’s education system not as a business opportunity, but as a moral imperative. He is, in fact, carrying the white man’s burden, fixing all the schools in the world because he Knows how they are supposed to work.”

Peter Greene continues his analysis of Barber and Hill’s projection of a test-dominated future.

Come the Pearson Renaissance, testing will be the linchpin of education.

As Greene writes:

“How do we tie curriculum and teaching together? How do we fix the achievement ceiling an finally make students smarter? How do we make learning really “professional” and not just something filled with human frailty? How do we collect and crunch more data than God? How do we create an ungameable system?

All assessing, all the time.

This is assessment with a new purpose– not to give a grade, but to determine whether Pat and Chris are ready to move on to the next stage of the curriculum. I once posited that Common Core standards were not so much standards as they are data tags for marking, storing, cataloging and crunching everything students do.”

Human judgment is replaced by the Pearson matrix.

Continuing his review of Pearson’s 88-page manifesto for a revolution in educatiion (led by Pearson), Peter Greene here reviews the claim that assessment should drive instruction.

To summarize,

“In other words, we need to teacher-proof classrooms. Teachers are human and variable and not reliable cogs in the educational machine. If we could get them all bound to assessments, that would tie them into a system that would be smooth and elegant. And profitable.

“Assessment is the new Missing Link for transforming education into a teacher-proof, school-proof, techno-driven, highly profitable process.”

Today I am devoting to Peter Greene’s painstaking and often hilarious dissection of Pearson’s plan to revolutionize education. This is Part 1.

As you will see, Pearson doesn’t think small. The writers of their 88-page document–Michael Barber and Peter Hill–have released their plan for “a new world order,” which they define for us, the little people.

I have never given a day of blogging over to one person, but I am doing so today. Peter Greene has carefully dissected an 88-page document, written by Michael Barber and Peter Hill, that reveals the corporate mind of Pearson.

In this post, he distills the lessons to be gleaned from Pearson’s dystopian vision of the future. Pearson is so important in American education that it behooves all of us to watch its plans and priorities with care. It owns large segments of the curriculum, textbook, and assessment industry, as well as the EdTPA for new teacher evaluation and a major virtual charter chain called Connections Academy. It is a mighty educational Octopus.

Here is a summary:



Lesson 1: Students will be plugged in

Lesson 2: Teachers will not be teachers

Lesson 3: Personalized learning won’t be

Lesson 4: Character may be important, but humanity, not so much

Lesson 5: Software will be magical

Lesson 6: Important people are listening to these guys

Alan Singer of Hofstra University is a Pearson-watcher, as we all should be. Pearson is the UK-based mega corporation that is swallowing up American educatiion. It creates assessments for many individual states (like Texas and New York) and Common Core PARCC. It writes curriculum for Common Core. It sells textbooks aligned with its tests. It owns the GED. It owns a virtual charter school chain called Connections Acadey. And it owns EdTPA, which evaluates whether aspiring teachers are qualified to teach.

Singer says that Pearson’s legal and financial troubles are piling up.

“Bad news for Pearson Education may be good news for the rest of us. The testing and publishing mega-giant is on the run, but it looks like it will not be able to hide. Pearson Education is closing its foundation; it is under investigation by the FBI for possible insider dealings in the Los Angeles iPad fiasco; the company is being sued by former employees for wrongful termination; and its PARCC exams are losing customers.”

Read on for the details.

Mercedes Schneider describes the remarkable shrinkage of states enrolled to give Pearson’s Common Core PARCC test from 2011-2014.

In 2011, Pearson boasted that 31 million students in 25 states plus D.C. Would take PARCC. By 2014, the numbers are down to 10 states and D.C. with 5 million students.


REINVENTING THE STANDARDIZED TEST: Pearson has been adjusting its internal focus from print to digital; now the global education giant is out with a study of how that shift can improve testing around the world. “Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment” argues that our current standardized tests – many of them, of course, developed by Pearson – aren’t making the grade. They’re not sensitive enough to accurately assess student performance at either the low or the high ends of the scale. They don’t give teachers timely, useful feedback. And they’re too focused on assessing low-level skills, rather than the competencies valued in today’s workplace, such as critical analysis, personal communication and hands-on problem solving. What’s the solution? Pearson touts the power of adaptive technology to customize exams. It’s also high on using computer algorithms to robo-grade student essays. (The report states as a fact that the PARCC consortium will use automated essay scoring, though member states have not yet made that determination.) The company also wants to see assessments that collect far more information than current tests, covering “multiple dimensions” of student ability.

– In short, Pearson envisions a future in which students produce ever more data . The report notes that “without such a systematic, data-driven approach to instruction, teaching remains an imprecise and somewhat idiosyncratic process that is too dependent on the personal intuition and competence of individual teachers.” Speaking of teaching, authors Peter Hill and Sir Michael Barber also argue that the field must evolve into a more tightly controlled profession with higher barriers to entry and a common framework for evaluating quality. That will require repudiating a tradition of “teaching as a largely under-qualified and trained, heavily unionized, bureaucratically controlled ‘semi-profession’ lacking a framework and a common language,” Hill and Barber write. Read the report:


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