For my summer classes I had to buy several books that left a sting on the old pocketbook. One book, though, really rubbed me the wrong way. The book, Curriculum Development: A Guide to Practice, cost me $134.11! That’s pretty salty for a book that doesn’t even have nice pictures. For that price I would expect the book to read itself. Anyway, what really burned me was when I received the book and found out it was published by Pearson.
If you know anything about Pearson, you know that they have their fingers tightly entwined in the education market. Pearson’s influence in education is widespread from K-12 education through college. Pearson owns Connections Academy, a virtual charter school conglomerate with schools in 24 states. They have a cooperative agreement with the University of Phoenix, the largest for profit post secondary school in the country. They are also “partners” with the CCSSO, one of the so-called creators of the CCSS. The CCSSO works closely with none other than Jeb Bush. The list goes on and on but I need to include that they are also involved in providing assessments for PARCC, GED and SAT. Wow, that’s a lot of influence for one publishing company. How did that come to be?
Well, that is rather simple. Pearson has influenced federal and state government over the last three years to the tune of about $5.5 million. Interesting that greasing the palms of politicians will get you a seat at the front table when contracts are handed out. Interesting that as a new need develops in the realm of education Pearson is there quickly with a solution. Not ready to devise a solution but with a ready made solution.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is this. Education is being construed as a means to make a profit. So called reformers develop reforms and then someone makes a fortune filling the gap created by the reform. The reformers and the hole fillers aren’t even educators. For the most part, they are anti public education. Jeb Bush? Bill Gates? Michelle Rhee? The Walton Foundation? All known associates of Pearson have suggested that public education is failing. But, public education needs Pearson because they conveniently have all the tools required by state and federal guidelines.
Am I going to go broke because I had to buy a $134.11 book? But for a company who sides with the people who believe in free market education, it seems strange that they have cornered the market in so many areas of public education.