Archive for July, 2013

CCBlog

This is a companion document connected to the video I made entitled Walking the Labyrinth of the Corporate Owned Common Core found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvUMk1ro27E

The following is the transcript of the narrative from  that video. (Note: I’ve added additional items I forgot to mention in the video in italics, and have inserted NOTES with extended information on certain items, and provided a list of references at the end).

Transcript begins:

Hi.  I’m Morna McDermott.  It’s July 23rd 2013 and this is my overview of corporate involvement in the Common Core.  Let’s start with U.S. Department of Education which funded, through grants and other funding, the Common Core via Race to the Top and handed it over to three major organizations: the National Governors Association, the CCSSO, otherwise known as the Chief Counsel State School Officers, and Achieve … who have partnered to disseminate, organize, manage or otherwise outsource the Common Core and the assessments that go with it.

INSERTED NOTE: I failed to mention that Achieve is funded in large part by ALEC-associated corporations including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, GE Foundation, Lumina, Nationwide, and State Farm.

(Transcript continued): So let’s start over here. The Director of Race to the Top is Joanne Weiss who worked with the Broad Foundation which also has as one of its acting members Chester Finn with the Fordham Institute. Broad Foundation is also a member of ALEC which sponsored the bill called the Parent Trigger Act. I’ll come back to that.

INSERTED NOTE: A little more background on the Eli Broad Foundation.  This foundation advertises its commitment to education in the following way (according to their website): “Broad Superintendents Academy graduates are raising student achievement faster than their peers after three years in their positions. And Broad Residents are freeing up millions of dollars for the classroom by introducing central office efficiencies … ”

Sounds nice. But there’s more… According to one author: “The network involves outspoken individuals with elitist credentials, long time neo-liberals, right-wing think tank pundits and their conservative foundation sponsors, other foundations such as Wallace and the Broad Foundations, and quasi-government agencies … Broad money is sloshed behind the scenes to elect or select candidates who buy the Broad corporate agenda in education (see Emery and Ohanian, 2004, pp.89-94). Broad’s enemies are teacher unions, school boards, and schools of education. What all three have in common is that they eschew corporate, top-down control required in the Broad business model.

(Transcript continued): The National Governors Association partners with Achieve for the Common Core. The National Governors Association also partners with the College Board. The CCSSO partners with Pearson for the Common Core (to create) the materials. The CCSSO also partners with ACT which is funded by State Farm which is a member of ALEC. Pearson, among other things, there is not enough time to cover everything in Pearson, so this is a broad sketch…acquired Connections Academy which is a member of ALEC. Connections Academy (via Mickey Revenaugh, Senior Vice President of State Relations for Connections Academy as of 2011) was actually the co-chair of the subcommittee for education in ALEC.  Pearson also acquired America’s Choice which sponsored a program called the NCEE which also partners with the CCSSO.

INSERTED NOTE: America’s Choice began as a program of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. In the autumn of 2004, America’s Choice was reorganized as a for-profit subsidiary of NCEE.

Since its founding in 1988, NCEE has been a leader of the educational standards movement in the U.S., and the America’s Choice program has become a premier provider of comprehensive school and instructional design services, technical assistance and teacher professional development. 

According to Jay Greene: “NCEE’s scheme was originally financed by a $1,500,000 pilot grant from the Gates Foundation.  It will now benefit from a sweetheart deal of $30,000,000–all taxpayers’ money. Having Gates pay for both NCEE’s start-up and the development of Common Core standards certainly helped America’s Choice to put its key people on Common Core’s ELA and mathematics standards development and draft-writing committees to ensure that they came up with the readiness standards Gates had paid for and wanted NCEE to use. NCEE has a completely free hand to ‘align’ its ‘Board’ exams exactly how it pleases with Common Core’s ‘college-readiness’ level and to set passing scores exactly where it wants, since the passing score must be consistent across piloting states.”

Other funders of NCEE who are also members of ALEC include Eastman Kodak Company, Lumina Foundation, and Ford Motor Company Fund, Boeing, Xerox, and Broad Foundation.

(Transcript cont.): The NCEE is funded by Walton- come over here-The Walton Foundation which is a member of ALEC and is basically associated with Walmart, directly funds the Common Core State Standards. And again, too many too many connections to mention- this is just brought sketch. I’m gonna come back up over here to the CCSSO (whose director is Tom Luna- correction, current Director is Chris Minnich former employee of Pearson) to look at their connections with McKinsey and Co. which is a global consulting firm. Their  big thing is called “Big Data”… they believe that the data is the answer to all things right now, (and) as you can see they’ve got their fingerprints all over everything in the Common Core. For one thing, David Coleman was one of the architects of the Common Core … he created the Student Achievement Partners which helped develop a standards, (and he) was a former consultant for McKinsey. Lou Gerstner, who is the co-founder of Achieve, was the former director at McKinsey & Co. and Sir Michael Barber was a former consultant McKinsey, is now one of the CEO’s at Pearson.  Pearson partners with the PARCC Consortium for the assessments. And I said they already partner with Achieve and ACT. The PARCC, following the screen line (in red) all the way over here, has their data collection (in) a partnership with inBloom. Now inBloom is a part Wireless Generation and is contracting with several states to collect the data for all their testing. The two key players in inBloom are Joel Klein (and) Rupert Murdoch. And in addition, members of the Board of inBloom include Margaret Spellings, Gene Wilhoit (former Executive Director) of the CCSSO, and also on the board is Bob Wise.  Bob (Wise) was the chair for the Alliance for Excellent Education which is the brainchild Jeb Bush. It’s funded by State Farm.  The Alliance for Excellent Education partners with, or supports, the Common Core. I’m gonna… follow me down here…. to the Council for Foreign Relations which supports a national curriculum and has been a big promoter at the Common Core Standards and has had direct influence on it. They created a paper in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and with America’s Promise Alliance to craft paper call the Education Reform and National Security Report and its authors supported the Common Core State Standards initiative. So, on the Council for Foreign Relations you have Lou Gertsner, who you know is the co-founder of Achieve, as I already mentioned, and who is a former director at McKinsey & Co. Also on the Board of Directors (of America’s Promise Alliance) is general Colin Powell – one of the things that this paper mentioned was the importance of the U.S. Department of Defense in overseeing and managing the Common Core. Other signers of this paper include Condoleeza Rice – and one of the cosponsors of this paper was America’s Promise Alliance which supports the Common Core .

INSERT: Visible but not mentioned is endorsement on this paper by a representative of the American Enterprise Institute, Rick Hess, who ironically vocalizes public skepticism of the Common Core. See the actual document for a full list of signatories.

(Transcript continued): The chair of America’s Promise Alliance is Alma Powell. The co-chair is Greg Petersmeyer, who is a McKinsey and Co. consultant and (he) helped develop something called Fuse Corporation which, among other things, supported Teach for America. So Fuse Corp is one of the partners of America Promise Alliance which is funded by Pearson Foundation, the Walmart Foundation which isin ALEC, the Gates Foundation, Lumina which is in ALEC, Boeing which is in ALEC, and Lockheed Martin which is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and is a member of ALEC, (and) The Ford Foundation. Bill Gates…um this is a board sketch because there are way too many things to mention about Bill Gates, but among other things… on of the Board of Directors for Wireless Generation is an employee at the Gates Foundation.

INSERT: Clarification of an error. The former Gates employee works for inBloom, not Wireless. Her name is Sharren Bates and she is the Chief Product Officer. https://www.inbloom.org/leadership. Also, on the Board of Director sits Deputy Director of the Next Generation Models Team for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stacey Childress.

(Transcript continued): The Gates Foundation directly funded the inBloom network. Gates also funds the College Board, which is now run by David Coleman–remember from Student Achievement Partners that made the standards for Common Core, and (who) was a former consultant at McKinsey & Co–um where’d they go… Gates Foundation also directly funds the Common Core State Standards. The National Governors Association partners with the College Board and also partners with the Achieve.  The CCSSO also partners with McKinsey & Co. to manage the PARCC after 2014. This initiative is also partnered by Lumina which is a member ALEC …So after 2014, McKinsey and Co. may be managing our children data. Specifically, the state of Florida has potentially considered a contract with McKinsey and Co. to manage the PARCC as of 2015. Again, this is a broad sketch-and there’s always more than meets the eye. But if every line was on here that needed to be on here, it would be even more unreadable than it already is. I forgot to mention U.S. Department of Education… the key advisers for the 2009 U.S. Department of Education “Blueprint” included largely members at McKinsey and Co. and the Broad Foundation. So it’s curious how much ALEC contends that it opposes the Common Core yet so many organizations that are members of ALEC have funded its inception and continue to promote its perpetuation from state to state.

Makes you wonder….

LABYRINTH OF CORPORATE COMMON CORE

LIST OF (MOST) REFERENCES

inBloom:

https://www.inbloom.org/board-of-directors

http://www.americaspromise.org/About-the-Alliance/Leadership/Board-of-Directors/C-Gregg-Petersmeyer.aspx

Lumina and CCSSO: http://www.luminafoundation.org/luminagrants/council_of_chief_state_school_officers_washington_dc_/

State Farm and ALEC: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/State_Farm

Lockheed Martin: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Lockheed_Martin

Chester Finn: http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/147681

ACT and Pearson: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/02/idUS192506+02-Jul-2012+HUG20120702

David Coleman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Coleman_(educator)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Board

Boeing: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Boeing

America’s Promise Alliance:

http://www.americaspromise.org/About-the-Alliance/Our-Donors.aspx

http://www.americaspromise.org/gradnation

Council on Foreign Relations:

https://educationalchemy.com/2012/05/11/this-is-not-a-test/

http://images.bimedia.net/documents/national+security+and+education.pdf

McKinsey and Co:

https://educationalchemy.com/2013/03/23/vampires-mckinsey-co-and-the-future-of-public-education-its-all-connected/

https://educationalchemy.com/2013/06/09/manifest-destiny-2-0-meet-the-new-colonizers/

https://educationalchemy.com/2012/06/18/the-hand-that-holds-the-data-rules-the-world/

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/big_data_the_next_frontier_for_innovation

Lou Gerstner:

https://educationalchemy.com/2013/07/17/pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain/

http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=179272&ticker=IBM

http://speakerpedia.com/speakers/louis-v-gerstner-jr

Alliance for Excellent Education: http://www.all4ed.org/

Grad Nation: http://www.all4ed.org/files/EducationDaily20111117.pdf

Connections Academy: http://www.connectionsacademy.com/about/management-team.aspx

Pearson:

http://www.examiner.com/article/pearson-250-million-kids-teachers-zero

http://www.thedeal.com/content/private-equity/apollo-exits-connections-education-via-400m-sale-to-pearson.php#ixzz1sSFSzLK0

American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC):

http://www.alecexposed.org

http://www.pfaw.org/sites/default/files/rww-in-focus-alec.pdf

Tom Luna: http://sites.google.com/site/commonsensedemocracyfoundation/recent-articles/tomlunaseducationreformplanwasalongtimeinthemaking

Schools Report: Failing to Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/schools-report-condoleezza-rice-joel-klein_n_1365144.html?ref=education

Joel Klein: http://susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=1248

NCEE (Natl Center for Education and the Economy): http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/gates-ncee-influence/

Other General References:

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/10/ending-99-control-of-schools-by-1.html?spref=fb

http://cnx.org/content/m34684/latest/  (Ten Most Wanted Enemies of American Public Education’s School Leadership)

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2011/02/we-know-what-commmon-core-standards.html

http://washingtonindependent.com/110525/alec-model-legislation-echoes-tppf-perry-backed-higher-ed-reforms-in-texas

http://www.artofteachingscience.org/2011/09/24/common-corporate-science-standards/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/gates-education-games_n_854431.html

 

Image

As ALEC descends upon Chicago it might be good to take an ALEC refresher course.

In spite of its more recent protestations against the Common Core, it’s finger prints cannot be fully erased. The other anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education policies are more evident. But don’t be fooled. They stand to benefit from their ruse of propping up followed by a “denial” of Common Core. Their denial cannot refute the facts that several ALEC associated corporations and “think tanks” have funded or otherwise promoted Common Core. Simply look at the the ways in which Common Core is playing into the hands of profit mongers, corporate interests, data miners, and education privatizers.

I’m not buyin’ what they’re sellin’.

Achieve, one of the creators of the Common Core has connections with ALEC.

  • ACHIEVE is funded by LUMINA (IN ALEC).
  • ACHIEVE is funded by STATE FARM (IN ALEC). STATE FARM also funded ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION (AEE). BOB WISE (WHO is the Chairman for AEE)  is a regular contributor to and participant with the ALEC educational agenda.
  • ACHIEVE is funded by GATES FOUNDATION.
  • The co-chair/co founder for ACHIEVE is LOU GERSTNER JR who was a CEO of IBM which has had membership with ALEC.

Pearson acquired the Connections Academy, whose co-founder and executive VP is Mickey Revenaugh, was formerly also the co-chair of the ALEC Education Task Force.

America’s Choice was also recently acquired by Pearson. This organization is directly associated with the Lumina, Broad, and Walton Foundations, all former (or) active members of ALEC. They each promote so-called “innovations” that appeal to the corporate and for-profit mindset.

CCSSO Director Tom Luna (in ALEC)works closely with Jeb Bush, whose associations with ALEC and corporate-reform are too numerous to mention.

ALEC…against the Common Core…..really??? Or are we bearing witness to a game of bait and switch? I’d rather not wait and see.

 

wizard of oz

 

Those of us following the news that slithers out from beneath the rock of the Common Core initiative know names like Bill Gates and David Coleman. Another person to watch very closely is Lou Gerstner. Why? He’s a man of many talents, and powerful positions from which he has launched his own vision for education. At the roots of the Common Core and new testing mandates you can find Mr. Gerstner. Before we launch into his bio, let’s take a look at his educational philosophy. Mr. Gerstner is co-author of Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools (Dutton 1994). He states the following as sound policies:

1) Abolish all local school districts, save 70 (50 states; 20 largest cities). Some states may choose to leave some of the rest as community service organizations, but they would have no direct involvement in the critical task of establishing standards, selecting teachers, and developing curricula.

2) Establish a set of national standards for a core curriculum. I would suggest we start with four subjects: reading, math, science and social studies.

3) Establish a National Skills Day on which every third, sixth, ninth and 12th-grader would be tested against the national standards. Results would be published nationwide for every school in America.

4) Establish national standards for teacher certification and require regular re-evaluations of teacher skills. Increase teacher compensation to permit the best teachers (as measured by advances in student learning) to earn well in excess of $100,000 per year, and allow school leaders to remove underperforming teachers.

5) Extend the school day and the school year to effectively add 20 more days of schooling for all K-12 students.

Any of this sounding familiar yet?

So becoming the co-founder and co-chair of ACHIEVE (from 1996-2002), the company that won the contract to develop and manage Common Core (along with CCSSO and NGA of course)….he could see his vision coming to fruition.

But let’s go back a little further.

Mr. Gerstner was a director of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Co., Inc., which he joined in 1965. There’s not enough room in this blog post to expound on why this is important. But it is. Please see more on McKinsey and Big Data here

In 1989, according to Susan Ohanian,  “Lou Gerstner joined hands with Arkansas governor Bill Clinton to lead the effort (for education reform). Gerstner and his Business Roundtable cronies got to name the problem and define the solution, which was a relabeled Business Roundtable plan calling for school choice, competition, and a massive infusion of technology. It was signed into federal law as America 2000. “

He served as a Director of Council on Foreign Relations. This also requires additional reading to see why this is important. But CFR had a big hand in establishing Common Core standards and data tracking.

Mr. Gerstner is vice chairman of the New American Schools Development Corporation.

Gerstner served as a CEO for IBM beginning in 1993 (considered a mogul by some) and is currently chairman of the Carlyle Group, a global asset management firm.

His latest position with Carlyle is becoming quite the savvy business move. Why?

In 2007, Apollo Group and The Carlyle Group Formed $1 billion joint venture called Apollo Global to make investments in the international education services sector

In summary: “Apollo Global Management now joins Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, itself a subsidiary of private equity, among the ‘big three’ of educational publishers, with News Corporation, the international media conglomerate, looking to apply pressure. All four of those companies have made major financial and personnel moves in the past year, as they jockey for position in an increasingly digitized market that is also bracing for the upcoming Common Core State Standards.”

And the contracts are rolling in. The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has approved Carnegie Learning(®) Common Core Math Programs for implementation in the state through 2018.Carnegie Learning, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Group, Inc.

As we move forward, fighting against the corporate takeover of public education, let’s please add Lou Gerstner  to our list of people to keep a close eye on. He hasn’t wandered off too far.

the state bred/corporate fed beast

(the State-bred/corporate-fed monster)

In recent months debate, opposition, and divisiveness have been ramping up over education reform policies, and more specifically the Common Core state standards (CCSS). For me, the confusion began over a year ago when after having spent diligent hours identifying the myriad of ways that I believed that ALEC had its hand in promoting the common core I was informed by a friend whose opinions I trust implicitly that ALEC was opposing Common Core. How could that be?  I saw their finger prints all over it! It seemed as if they had simply erased their prints from the scene of the crime and were now framing people, or groups who are ideologically “left,” for the Common Core fiasco.

Not being a member of ALEC I cannot speak to their strange Janus-faced double speak on this matter. But facts are facts. And I still see their finger prints whether “the lady doth protest too much” or not. However, since that time a year ago it seems that more and more individuals or groups of all political and ideological stripes have been coming out vocally against the common core. Anyone visiting certain Face Book sites devoted to these issues for example can see the passionate and fervent disparities of opinions regarding “who supports what and why.”  There is ongoing debate over whether or not folks from such diverse philosophical or political backgrounds can find “common ground” against the common core. I think the jury is still out on this matter. But dialogue, even rabid debate, is sometimes good. We’ve had enough of being silenced. Rip it open. And move forward. Somehow.

I’m not serving as an arbitrator of this phenomena. I offer no set opinion or conclusion. I’m acting here as an observer. Here is what I’ve surmised so far from my ongoing observations: There are four (and I’m sure grossly over-generalized) groups of people operating in the sphere of debates around education reform policies, in particular the CCSS.

1)  First there are two forms of the PROFITEERS: PRO common core/reform a) neo-liberals or conservatives AND b) Democrats (liberals) who see schools/kids as PROFIT but pretend theirs is the cause of social equality when in fact their efforts are a way to privatize public goods (I think we all pretty much despise them)….We know who they are: Billionaire’s Boys Club (aka Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Walton, anything involving Michelle Rhee, inBloom, hedge fund investors, Achieve, CCSSO…ad infinitum). These are usually “venture philanthropists” and the people they’ve bought out and keep in their back pocket like small pets (i.e  Arne Duncan).

2) The second group I’ve encountered recently are ANTI CCSS folks who self-identify as libertarian, Republican, Tea Party or otherwise Conservative. These groups or individuals largely oppose CCSS and high-stakes testing because of their personal beliefs about states “rights” and freedom from federal government intrusion (this includes folks who may wish to see religion more in schools etc etc), and oppose the threats to privacy via the new online testing and data collection apparatus. Many of them mis-perceive CCSS as a socialist or communist plot….which, when you look and see who has developed, funded and support CCSS, nowhere does it mention the “United Socialists of America.”  Who does the list of supporter and endorsers include? A whole host of neo-liberal corporations and “non profits” who have a strong ideological leaning toward anti-Unionism, corporate- style of school “management”, data ownership, and privatization of public services (including education). While many members of group #2 oppose CCSS, they may not necessarily oppose other methods of education reform such as vouchers and charter schools. Many of them have very strong religious, moral, and social views on other matters (both related to and unrelated to education). Some of them see CCSS as an indoctrination of curricula which does not support or reflect their own values. However, speaking to that issue I’d like to suggest that whether or not you personally find anything in the standards objectionable, it was not a plot by any group on the left to put them there. People from the left have been rallying against overly invasive federal regulations of testing and curriculum long before it was the “in” thing to do.

3) The third group are PRO- CCSS folks who might self identify as “liberal,” democrat, or left-leaning. These individuals see CCSS as way to protect public schools from group #2.  Many of these individuals live in states where they feel they struggle already against the strong influence of staunchly conservative (aka Tea Party) values. They see CCSS as a way to defend public school curricula against what they feel are prominent but singular religious views that might include creationism, homophobia, racism, or narrow definitions of God. One way they may differ from #2’s is that many #2’s are in favor of eliminating public education- seeing it as a federal intrusion while #3’s support the continuance of public schools.

4) The fourth group (with whom I self-identify) are ANTI–CCSS, high stakes testing, and education reform folks from liberal or left-leaning philosophy who see CCSS and education reform as full on assault by groups 1a and 1b with an aim to dismantle/control public education for profit and other forms of social control. Whether or not any of the CCSS standards are “good”, #4s believe that “finding the good” in CCSS, or accepting them for their possible benefits, is akin to admiring the handiwork of the carpenter who built the Trojan Horse. Sure, it might have some redeeming qualities, but we can pretty much predict what’s gonna happen when you wheel it in. The CCSS is a package deal that comes with a host of other harmful policies and agenda, from which it cannot be detached.

So…can any or all of these groups band together? (Excluding the assholes in group #1 of course).  I don’t know.

People are people first. I know gun toting pro-life liberals, and pro-choice anti-religious conservatives. We are many and varied. We are all different in our approaches to our politics and personal beliefs.  We are all more than the sum total of our labels.  Sometimes, how we differ is more in our opinions over how to achieve shared values. I need to know someone before I can judge whether or not I will work with them. And likewise other people will need to make that determination of me.

And yet, we each must have, what the show “Sex and the City” (in one episode) called the “non-negotiables.” Each of us must (as individuals or as groups) determine what our non-negotiables are in our fight against corporate education reform. These are the beliefs, values, goals, or social goods that we (as individuals or groups) will not sacrifice, nor compromise for any other purpose. We all have them, whether we self-identify as a #2, 3, or 4 (or none of the above!).  Just because you and I are both opposed to one thing does not mean we can necessarily overcome our differences on something else. If the KKK suddenly wanted to save the whales I’m not sure I’d bring cupcakes to their bake sale (even for the whales). And I respect their right to refuse to work with the likes of me as well.

Much depends on differences in relationship to person, context, issue, and extremity.

The other  thing to bear in mind is that what ALL of us are dealing with is a very different beast than anything we have seen before: The state-bred corporate-fed monster. It’s been growing for decades now, and is finally coming fully out of its cave. It’s not purely a neo-conservative corporate creature. It’s not purely a state/federal machine. To libertarians or conservatives it may manifest itself as “The State.” For someone with little more than a popular culture understanding of communism or socialism it may “appear” to be precisely that. But it’s not. It’s what happens when you breed a PUBLIC state level apparatus with PRIVATE free-market-loving (and “God bless America”) corporate controlled self-serving interest. It’s some freakish hybrid (like a vampire crossed with a zombie) and we are all still struggling not only to name it, but to figure out how best to destroy it without destroying ourselves.

So much of the dissonance and discord (between 2s, 3s and 4s), as well as the unlikely alliances between some of us, are stemming from our internal and inter-relational struggle to understand what this thing is, how it operates, what it will mean, how we see ourselves, and where we will be in relationship to one another… in this place called planet earth which, in spite of everything, we all must share.

pearson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has sold out to Monsanto. The U.S. Department of Energy has sold out to the fracking lobbyists. And the U.S Department of Education has sold out to Pearson.

Most of us fighting corporate education reform are already familiar with the weight and influence that Pearson wields in education policy. For a full exploration of their involvement with curriculum and testing, among other things, see: http://unitedoptout.com/boycott-pearson-now/ and http://teacherblog.typepad.com/newteacher/2012/11/on-the-rise-of-pearson-oh-and-following-the-money.html

One of the ways Pearson has wrangled its way into the control rooms of the U.S. Department of Education and state level decision making is through intensive and expensive lobbying efforts. I will not make some jack ass claim to have “discovered America,” or in this case, “discovered” new information about Pearson’s lobbying history. Others have already done so, including:

http://funnymonkey.com/blog/talking-about-textbooks

Susuan Ohanian at http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=89

http://www.republicreport.org/2012/testing-company-pearson-spending-millions-to-influence-schools/

But the information these individuals and others have unearthed and written about is worth our continued careful and ongoing examination because as we speak, still few too many people really understand HOW education policy is being made in the USA.

Bear in mind-the actual list of lobbying efforts that I am largely working from here goes back to 2007 and is about 29 pages long as a Word doc. What I present here is merely a SNAPSHOT of some of their lobbying escapades. It is by no means is it a comprehensive report.  I recommend that everyone go read their full lobbying history at InfluenceExplorer. Click the “download” button to review the Excel spreadsheet that itemizes the topics lobbied and the year.

Also visit Open Secrets

A Pearson Lobbying Snapshot

Pearson has a long history of lobbying to and working with the federal government, for both Democratic and Republican administrations.  Their “ownership” of the control mechanisms in education is apparently bipartisan. Two of their favorite lobbying firms are Bryan Cave LLP and Akin Gump.

Just as a side note, Hon. Edward I. Koch was a Partner at Bryan Cave LLP, and a member of the StudentsFirstNY Board.  In New York state in 2012 Bryan Cave LLC spent $146,716 lobbying (under the heading of Education) for:

“Lobbying Activities With Respect to Rezoning, Amnedments to A Previously Approved Large Scale Residential Development, Demapping of City Streets, Disposition of City-Owned Property and Potential Funding Approvals From the Dormitory Authority of the State.”

Let’s see….StudentsFirst….charter schools….re-zoning, and redistribution of property….hmmmm

As mentioned in last week’s blog post (Pearson Follies Part I),  Akin Gump does pro bono work for Teach for America.

In 2009 Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO), National Governors Association (NGA) and Achieve agreed to partner together on a common core standards project.

In 2009, Pearson lobbied for  something aptly titled “Common Core Education Standards.”

That same year, when PARCC and SBAC placed their bids in to the U.S. Dept of Education which, via RtTT, was seeking organizations to whom they could “outsource” their efforts (aka Common Core), Achieve had contracted with Pearson as their partner to pursue this effort. So it’s no wonder that Pearson was the corporation of choice to contract for management of nearly every facet of the latest round of education materials and assessments, including Common Core curricula, PARCC, Ed TPA, SAT’s and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink (maybe McGraw Hill got that…)

And lo and behold, PARCC and SBAC won these grants.

—————————————————————————————————————-

CFDA Numbers: 84.395B (Comprehensive Assessment Systems grant category) and 84.395C (High School Course Assessment grant category)
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants

Authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Race to the Top Assessment Program provides funding to consortia of States to develop assessments that are valid, support and inform instruction, provide accurate information about what students know and can do, and measure student achievement against standards designed to ensure that all students gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and the workplace. These assessments are intended to play a critical role in educational systems; provide administrators, educators, parents, and students with the data and information needed to continuously improve teaching and learning; and help meet the President’s goal of restoring, by 2020, the nation’s position as the world leader in college graduates

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Naturally, Pearson lobbied (several times across numerous years) to “Support adequate funding for federal education programs” (funding which will go directly into their pockets no doubt).  Specifically, one of the most frequently disclosed bills identified with Pearson is HR 1, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

If anyone out there is still wondering, “How the hell do these policies get put into place?” one answer might be that Pearson has enormous lobbying sway and influence to create legislation which, once put into place, becomes the vehicle through which they can provide the services for these policies. As just one example:

Pearson lobbied a minimum of thirty times between 2008 and 2012 for Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) or reauthorization of ESEA, including “preparation for reauthorization, advocated for quality student assessments, literacy programs, data systems, utilization of education technology, (and) electronic student records”; by far one of the largest portion of their lobbying efforts.

According to Arne Duncan himself, “Our proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act also would allow states to include subjects other than math and English language arts in their accountability system because we specifically want to foster the teaching of a well-rounded curriculum. The reauthorization blueprint includes millions for the research, development, and improvement of additional high-quality assessments–which could include science and foreign language tests.”

But wait… there’s more! Arne hands over even MORE money to Pearson:

“It is our plan to set aside funds in the fiscal 2011 budget to support the development of English Language Proficiency assessments

Well of COURSE Pearson would lobby FOR THAT! Duh….

What else do they lobby for?

Well, let’s see. In an age of pushing for more online/computer-based PARCC and SBAC testing, and online access of curricular materials… conveniently in 2012 Pearsonprovided support to Department of Education on Digital Promise and Learning Registry.  Provided information on accessibility of digital instructional materials.  Advocated against federal funding of open education resources development.”

Pearson says they’ll, “jointly develop a line of custom, next-generation digital course solutions, and will explore new products in the K12 and international markets.”

Thanks largely to their own lobbying efforts, in a white paper written in 2010, Pearson wrote, “Now an unprecedented need exists for collaboration between vendors and assessment specification governance boards to determine coherent and comprehensive assessment standards. Such standards must support the full life cycle of building, delivering, scoring, and reporting assessments and must address assessment item content, assessment assets, assessment item accommodations, assessment item metadata, test forms, scoring, reporting, and feedback.”

Their first objective is to manufacture educational policies and processes which Pearson itself will then provide the services for.

Whether or not these policies and practices offer meaningful or beneficial services to children is a far distant second.

Wait. I’m being way too over-generous in that last statement. I don’t think children’s well being is anywhere on their radar. So it must, it will,  remain on ours. And Pearson will remain on my radar too. Stay tuned for next week’s installation of the Pearson Follies, Part III.

pearson

Who wanted the Common Core?

Arne Duncan keeps prepping the press for talking points and trying to convince us all that, “the states wanted” Common Core. Well, how do we define “the states”?  If you mean the legislators who are lobbied by and bought and sold organizations like Pearson, then perhaps Arne is correct.

Pearson has an interesting lobbying history.  They are financial and political powerhouses with the some heavy hitters among their ranks and millions of dollars to get what they want.

From 2010 to May 2013, Pearson Education spent $3,200,000 on lobbying.

According to Ravitch:

As of May 2012, Pearson worked with eighteen states in the U.S. as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. In New York, Pearson held a $32 million, five-year contract to produce standardized tests. In Texas its contract was worth $500 million. In a statement issued ahead of its annual shareholder meeting in April 2012, Pearson said that education business accounts for more than 60% of earnings and sales and the company’s total revenue is up 12% this year to $1.16 billion.

In 2012 alone they put a lot of weight behind the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization, advocating for quality student assessments, literacy programs, data systems, utilization of education technology, electronic student records. They advocated against government funded development of open education resources in Dept of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Training Grants. They provided input to Department of Education and White House on implementation of Digital Promise and Learning Registry.

Maybe this is because they stand to reap billions of dollars from developing and selling the programs that will be initiated.

Their current lobbyists include:

Beth Ann Bryan, Steven Kingsley, Sandy Kress, Daniel Mullaney, Brandon Pollak, B. Alexander Kress,Susan H. Lent, Christopher Rorick, Krisann A. Pearce, and Bill Paxon,

Pearson also has a long standing relationship with the federal government. Many Pearson employees have served for the U.S. government in what’s called a “revolving door”  before or after their employment with Pearson.  Some of these individuals include:

Jankowsky, Joel Pearson Inc

Former

Kingsley, Steven Pearson Education

Current

Kress, Sandy Pearson Inc

Former

 
Lent, Susan H Pearson Education

Former

 
Mullaney, Daniel Pearson Education

Current

Also add to that list:

Former House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler and Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, former chairwoman, House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee.

One of the big time lobbyists for Pearson, Sandy Kress, works for Akin Gump, LLC (which Pearson also uses) whose website states:

Our education practice has achieved considerable success serving a diverse client base ranging from established and renowned institutions to cutting-edge start-ups, education research organizations, major education publishers, K-12 schools, nonprofits, online public charter schools, community colleges and universities. Akin Gump has cultivated specific experience in online education; education technology; early childhood education; science, technology, education and math (STEM) education initiatives; English Language Learner activities; teacher quality standards; school productivity issues; financial aid efficiencies; after-school academic programming; and supplemental education services. Our clients seek to improve education in a transformative way, and we partner with them to accomplish their objectives.

Sandy Kress is known as one of the chief architects for NCLB (so is it any wonder that Pearson might use him to lobby for ESEA)?

It seems that, “George W. Bush plucked Kress from the Dallas School Board to help him apply the ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’ mantra to public schools.”

In 2011 alone Kress earned between  $50,000 – $99,999.99 lobbying for Pearson.  This is just one of his many clients. He also was paid in 2011 between $10,000 – $24,999.99 lobbying for Teach for America. But wait…there’s more! He also received in 2011 between $10,000 – $24,999.99 lobbying for Wireless Generation.

Oh and by the way, “Akin Gump is proud to be the national pro bono counsel for the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)”

The other lead lobbying organization for Pearson Education is Bryan Cave, which is noted to be a member of ALEC.

Well, it seems that the business interests of “the states” certainly wanted the Common Core!

In 2008 Pearson lobbied to, “present information on Vangent contract with US Department of Education. Preparation for lobbying effort to support programs for reading and assessments, that will considered during the future reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (no bill number)

Lo and behold, in 2008 guess who won a contract with the US Department of Education?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid has awarded an enterprise development support services (EDSS) development services contract to Arlington, Va.-based Vangent. “The Department of Education estimates that the 10-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract has a ceiling value of $300 million, if all options are exercised …The agreement will allow Vangent to continue its 30-year partnership with the Office of Federal Student Aid to support students’ pursuit of their educational goals. Under the terms of the agreement, Vangent will bid on task orders to provide software engineering services to support technology life-cycle management and procurement across multiple Federal Student Aid and Department of Education initiatives “ 

Oh, and by the way, prior to 2007 “Vangent was formerly known as Pearson Performance Solutions

Stay tuned next week for more of the Pearson Follies when we delve further into Pearson’s lobbying history.