Archives for category: Pearson

Bob Braun’s controversial article about Pearson spying on students’ social media accounts is online again, after having disappeared last night for some hours in a “denial of service.”

 

I hope Bob Braun is able to get to the bottom of the matter and tell us why his website was “suspended” last night. Was he hacked? Did the site crash because of the number of users trying to access it at the same time? I hope we find out.

I just read a comment posted by a reader, who pointed out that Pearson has an official policy about the use of social media.

 

Here is a portion:

 

How we use social media
Here you’ll find details of how we use social media such as Facebook and Twitter and the kind of response you can expect from us.
We have an active presence on social media and encourage students to use it too. It’s a great way to find information and share ideas, particularly when you’re revising for exams……

 

We also:
review Tweets about our brands (e.g. ‘Edexcel’ and ‘BTEC’) that don’t directly tag our profiles
monitor social media platforms such as Google+ and other online forums
We may not reply directly to these types of posts, but we monitor them to make sure that any of you with questions are getting the answers you need.
Monitoring activity on social media allows us to continuously improve the service we offer by keeping us up-to-date with what you’re saying about us online. In the past, this has helped us to identify problems with our website, driving improvements to our student pages.
Discussing us or our assessments online
Sharing ideas with others online can be really beneficial when you’re studying or revising. However, there are limits to the amount of information you can share, and you need to be careful not to break the rules. If you’re in doubt about what you can and can’t discuss, it’s always best to check with your teacher.
Sharing too much information with others is an example of ‘malpractice’. Other examples include:
copying someone else’s work or allowing your work to be copied
allowing others to help produce your work or helping others with theirs
being in possession of confidential material in advance of an exam
taking unauthorised items into an exam, such as a mobile phone or extra notes
passing on rumours of exam content
discussing the content of an exam before the paper has been completed in other parts of the world
threatening or harassing staff at an awarding organisation.
We have an obligation to investigate any case where there is the suggestion that you’ve acted improperly. If you are found to have broken the rules, you could face one of the following penalties:
a warning
the loss of marks for a section, component or unit
disqualification from a unit, all units or qualifications
a ban from sitting exams for a set period of time.
We understand that sometimes you are going to talk about us and our assessments with your friends. During stressful periods, some comments may not be very flattering. However, we’d like to ask you to act responsibly when discussing us or your exams and coursework online.

 

 

[Note from Diane: The link now says, “This Account Has Been Suspended.” I am not sure what this means. Some think his site crashed because of so many people trying to open it at the same time. Perhaps it will be back up soon. I hear it is posted on Bob Braun’s Facebook page. Read the comments below for that link.]

 

Bob Braun, an investigative reporter in New Jersey for the past 50 years, has learned that Pearson is spying on the social media accounts of students taking the PARCC tests.

 

 

Bob Braun writes:

 

Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company, is spying on the social media posts of students–including those from New Jersey–while the children are taking their PARCC, statewide tests, this site has learned exclusively. The state education department is cooperating with this spying and has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the tests.

 

This website discovered the unauthorized and hidden spying thanks to educators who informed it of the practice–a practice happening throughout the state and apparently throughout the country. The spying–or “monitoring,” to use Pearson’s word–was confirmed at one school district–the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren by its superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett.

 

Jewett sent out an e-mail–posted here– to her colleagues expressing concern about the unauthorized spying on students. She said parents are upset and added that she thought Pearson’s behavior would contribute to the growing “opt out” movement.

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 http://www.garnpress.com.

Stephanie Simon reports in Politico.com 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: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/pearson-education-115026.html#ixzz3RLxhh6ub

 

 

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

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