A great deal of much-needed attention has been given recently to the role that ALEC has played in dismantling our democratic rights in favor of corporate profit. The institution of public education has not escaped the interest of ALEC. In fact, ALEC has taken a seat at the head of the educational table, and is helping itself to an enormous piece of the educational pie, the key ingredients of which consist largely of citizens’ federal and state tax payer dollars.
ALEC writes model legislation in educational policies that lend themselves toward privatizing public education and into the pockets of for-profit corporations. And where does all that money go? Aside from going toward the corporate-model charter schools in the forms of vouchers, per pupil funding and other special financial packages, a lion’s share of the monies are going directly into the coffers of large textbook and testing publishing companies including Pearson.
Pearson is not a direct member of ALEC. One has to dig a little deeper to see the insidious ties between Pearson, the largest provider of education related materials (read: textbooks, testing materials, test preparation materials, National Common Core materials and teacher training workshops…), and ALEC. Some of Pearson’s associations with ALEC and/or parallel corporate-model approach to privatizing education at a profit include the following:
Connections Academy - ALEC’s private-sector chairwoman, Mickey Revenaugh, is a co-founder and executive vice president of the Baltimore-based Connections Academy, which operates online classes in numerous states – recently acquired by Pearson.
America’s Choice – recently acquired by Pearson. America’s Choice is directly associated with Lumina, and the Broad and Walton Foundations, all active members of ALEC. They promote educational “innovations” that favor corporate-model reform.
University of Phoenix – recently acquired by Pearson. U of P is the largest for-profit online private university system.
Connections Academy was, and University of Phoenix still is, subsidiaries of the Apollo Management Group. CEO of Apollo Charles (Chaz) Edelstein was Managing Director of Credit Suisse and Head of the Global Services group within the Investment Banking division, based in Chicago. He is also on the Board of Directors for Teach for America.
Bryan Cave LLP is the lobbyist firm for Pearson. Edward Koch is currently one of the partners at Bryan Cave. Edward Koch also conveniently sits on the board for StudentsFirst of NY, a state-level branch of Michelle Rhee’s brainchild StudentsFirst initiative.
Pearson also has a business agreement with Stanford University to deliver the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) – a nationally available, web-based performance assessment for measuring the effectiveness of teacher candidates nationally – which means that Pearson will now oversee teacher preparation assessments as well.
Sir Michael Barber is the current Chief Education Advisor for Pearson. Research (in the supporting document to this letter) shows that Barber is a powerful advocate for the free-market approach to education including union busting, merit pay, and turning public schools into privately run charters.
Pearson contracts with PARCC which was developed by Achieve. Achieve is funded by Lumina, State Farm (both are members of ALEC), and The Alliance for Excellence in Education (AEE). AEE chairman Bob Wise is a regular contributor to and participant with the ALEC educational agenda.
The Tucker Capital Corporation acted as exclusive advisor to The American Council on Education (ACE) and Pearson on the creation of a ground-breaking new business that will drive the future direction, design, and delivery of the GED testing program.
TheCouncil of Chief State School Officers(CCSSO) – CCSSO partners with a whole cast of other “non profit” organizations who promote a corporate anti-public education reform measures. CCSSO central “partners” include (among others) McGraw-Hill and Pearson. CCSSO Director Tom Luna works closely with Jeb Bush and whose associations with ALEC and corporate-reform are too numerous to mention.
GradNation – GradNation is a special project of America’s Promise Alliance, sponsored by Alma and Gen Colin Powell. Among other things, they advocate for the Department of Defense to help manage the Common Core Standards and student testing data. Grad Nation sponsors include State Farm (ALEC), Walmart Foundation (ALEC), AT&T (on the corporate board of ALEC), The Boeing Company ALEC), the Pearson Foundation, and Philip Morris USA (ALEC).
Pearson has also acquired PARCC, SAT testing, GED testing, and was the central player (through Achieve) in the design of the National Common Core Standards. In essence, every facet of our public educational system, from teacher preparation, curriculum design and content, and testing/assessments from womb to tomb, are now owned by a private corporation, whose profits skyrocketed into the billions of dollars.
We must make note that Pearson, while the biggest, is not the only bully on the block. McGraw-Hill is the other publishing giant that will benefit from its association with SBAC and it made billions as the publisher of sanctioned and promoted reading programs (Open Court, SRA Reading Mastery) associated with the Reading First provision of NCLB. Of course, after billions spent on Reading First and the McGraw-Hill materials, the federally funded evaluation of the program showed no increase in reading comprehension by third grade (the goal). McGraw-Hill is also one of the biggest test publishers in the U.S. and publishes the CTBS, the main competitor of Pearson’s SAT 10.
The legislation forced upon states to adopt Common Core and other testing measures essentially eliminates the power of consumer choice (supposedly a darling concept of the free market ideology) and requires that tax payer dollars for education be handed over to Pearson and McGraw Hill as key providers of nearly all educational resources available to the schools. We find it frightening and ironic that Pearson, who profits off of public education to the tune of billions of dollars, is simultaneously run by, and sponsors organizations, which promote the destruction of public education. We are in essence paying for our own demise. In the words of Examiner reporter Jennie Smith (April 24th, 20120): “In the Age of Accountability, the only ones not accountable for anything, apparently, are the testing giants who have lobbied hard for the ‘accountability’ legislation. Then again, they are accountable to someone…it’s just not children or teachers.”
We are calling on all university and college professors to BOYCOTT the use of all Pearson and McGraw-Hill related materials. Please see our sample letter at the end of this document which you may share to encourage others to boycott as well.
Morna McDermott, Associate Professor of Education and administrator forUnited Opt Out National with support from Bess Altwerger, Professor of Education at Towson University, and promoted by the entire United Opt Out National team of administrators (Peg Robertson, Tim Slekar, Ceresta Smith, Shaun Johnson and Laurie Murphy)
Please sign your name in the comment section of this post to join the Pearson Boycott.