Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

BOYCOTT PEARSON NOW!

Pearson, ALEC, and the Brave New (Corporate) World:
Stand Up to Pearson Now!

(Publisher’s Note: We have revised our Boycott Pearson boycottinformation for clarity and in order to add additional research – please use this version, posted April 29, 2012, when sharing.)

 

Supporters of Public Education,

The curtain has been pulled aside recently from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), exposing the seedy underbelly of our democracy. Organizations like ALEC circumvent the democratic process in favor of corporations. Financial resources are used to influence public officials and provide model legislation meant to easily pass through state houses of governance. Recent examples include infamous “Stand Your Ground” laws and others that seek to limit the voting rights of marginalized populations. Education reform legislation is also part of ALEC’s agenda, with substantial sponsorship from corporate funds to divert the flow of valuable taxpayer dollars away from public schools.

ALEC-inspired advocacy for public education reform typically follows a path to privatization; that is, viewing educational practices vis-à-vis economic and capitalist principles. Strict school choice models, vouchers, private charter management organizations, and the erosion of collective bargaining rights are all examples of the economic management of public education. As opposed to a valuable public good, certain entities prevalent in the education reform debate are forcing schools to motivate themselves by profit and competition. What it means to be an educated person (e.g., college and career ready), what is important to teach (e.g., common standards), and how success is measured (e.g., standardized tests) are currently under significant transformation without the thorough vetting via democratic processes. And with the frustration and confusion ensuing from rapid developments occurring behind closed doors, outside the public spotlight of democracy, there are large corporations conveniently present to sell us products that will solve all of our problems.

Pearson is one such entity that as of late always seems to be at the right place and precisely at the right time. In other words, just as new legislation is passed, as new educational mandates are set, Pearson is suddenly able to provide the legions of educators and school systems clamoring for some kind of answer with just the right product. How can this be? In recent years, this once relatively small publishing house turned itself into a massive provider of a range of educational products, from traditional print materials for the K-12 sector, higher education resources and technology solutions for public school systems. It is one thing to have various products to sell and to allow the marketplace to judge their success or failure. It is another matter to reorganize the rules so that Pearson products are all one needs to buy to satisfy a range of emerging Federal and State education mandates.

For better or for worse, education reform in the United States is largely controlled by legislation. It appears then that Pearson is successfully implementing a two-pronged approach: grease the democratic process in their favor so that certain rules must be followed and from the other side perfectly match their own products so they have exactly what can be bought to satisfy those requirements. Pearson, through connections to ALEC, has become the dominant provider of education resources and services in the K-12 and post-secondary markets. The following are some of the affiliations that made this perfect alignment possible:

  • Pearson acquired the Connections Academy, whose co-founder and executive VP is Mickey Revenaugh, is also the co-chair of the ALEC Education Task Force. In September of 2004, Connections Academy was sold to an investor group led by Apollo Management, L.P. In the fall of 2011, Pearson acquired Connections Education, establishing a leading position in the fast-growing virtual school segment and the opportunity to apply Connections Education’s skills and technologies in new segments and geographic markets.
  • According to Pearson’s website: “Pearson Education and the University of Phoenix (a subsidiary of Apollo Management Group), the largest private (for-profit) university in the United States announced a partnership which will accelerate the University’s move to convert its course materials to electronic delivery.” [emphasis added]. As such, Pearson will certainly provide the materials and the mode of transmission. It must also be stated here that many for-profit universities have been under investigation for student loan fraud and unethical recruitment practices. The CEO of AMG, 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, which is a provider of temporary and inexperienced teachers and also frequently associated with corporate education reform. One prominent name in this regard is TFA alum Michelle Rhee, the failed former Chancellor of DC public schools.
  • America’s Choice was also recently acquired by Pearson. This organization is directly associated with the Lumina, Broad, and Walton Foundations, all active members of ALEC. They each promote so-called “innovations” that appeal to the corporate and for-profit mindset.
  • Bryan Cave, LLP is the lobbying firm for Pearson. Edward Koch is currently one of the partners at Bryan Cave. Edward Koch sits conveniently and comfortably on the board for StudentsFirst NY, a branch of the national initiative StudentsFirst, which is the brainchild of failed former Chancellor of DC public schools Michelle Rhee. It must also be stated that Rhee’s tenure is under a dark cloud of investigation for rampant test cheating and tampering in the district.
  • Pearson is contracted with Stanford University to deliver the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) to more than 25 participating states. According to Pearson’s website, “TPA is led by Stanford University, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and Pearson.” Furthermore, “Pearson’s electronic portfolio management system will support candidates, institutions of higher education, and state educational agencies by providing registration and account management services, submission of the portfolio for scoring and results reporting.” [emphasis added]. Pearson provides the administrative management skills and broad-based technology and delivery systems that will support the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) and bring it to a national scale. Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) selected Pearson to provide these needed services for the TPA. Let it be known that the U.S. Dept. of Ed. is currently considering teacher preparation programs to be evaluated based on accountability measures similar to public schools.
  • Sir Michael Barber is the current Chief Education Advisor for Pearson. It is no secret that Mr. 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 Achieve to manage the PARCC assessments. Achieve is funded by Lumina, State Farm (both 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. Moreover, PARCC awarded Pearson a contract in January to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool, which will support state education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments. Pray tell, who will sell those upgrades?
  • The Tucker Capital Corporation acted as exclusive advisor to The American Council on Education (ACE) and Pearson on the creation of a groundbreaking new business that will drive the future direction, design, and delivery of the GED testing program.
  • The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partners with a whole cast of other organizations that promote a corporate, anti-public education reform agenda. CCSSO Central “partners” include (among others) McGraw-Hill and Pearson. CCSSO Director Tom Luna works closely with Jeb Bush, whose associations with ALEC and corporate-reform are too numerous to mention.
  • GradNation is a special project of America’s Promise Alliance, sponsored by Alma and Gen. Colin Powell. Grad Nation sponsors include State Farm (ALEC), the Walton Foundation (ALEC), AT&T (on the corporate board of ALEC), The Boeing Company (ALEC), the Pearson Foundation and Philip Morris USA (ALEC). The GradNation Summit list of presenters reads like an ALEC yearbook.
  • Gen. Colin Powell sits on the Board of Directors for The Council for Foreign Relations, which issued an “Education Reform and National Security” report (co-chaired by Joel Klein and Condoleeza Rice, directed by Julia Levy). The report states, among other things, that: “The Task Force believes that though revamping expectations for students should be a state-led effort, a broader coalition … including the defense community, businesses leaders, the U.S. Department of Education, and others … also has a meaningful role to play in monitoring and supporting implementation and creating incentives to motivate states to adopt high expectations. The Defense Policy Board, which advises the secretary of defense, and other leaders from the public and private sectors should evaluate the learning standards of education in America and periodically assess whether what and how students are learning is sufficiently rigorous to protect the country’s national security interests.” [emphasis added].
  • According to Susan Ohanian: “In the introduction to the Education Reform and National Security report, Julia Levy, Project Director, thanks ‘the several people who met with and briefed the Task Force group including the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Mary Cullinane formerly of Microsoft [Philadelphia School of the Future] [now Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt], Sir Michael Barber of Pearson and David Coleman of Student Achievement Partners …’ They were briefed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson.”
  • Pearson has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a series of digital instructional resources. In November 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave ALEC $376,635 to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement (the Gates Foundation recently withdrew its support for ALEC under the heat of public pressure). However, their billions of dollars still flow to other far-reaching organizations dedicated to dismantling public education.
  • The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is a private-sector member of ALEC. Bob Wise (Chairman, of NBPTS) and Alliance for Excellent Education presented on “National Board’s Fund Initiative to Grow Great Schools” at the Education Task Force Meeting at the 2011 ALEC annual picnic. According to the NBPTS website, they “announced that it has awarded Pearson a five-year contract for the period 2009-2013 to develop, administer and score its National Board Certification program for accomplished teachers. Pearson will collaborate with NBPTS to manage its advanced teacher certification program in 25 certificate areas that span 16 subject areas.”
  • Pearson has also acquired partnerships with companies to deliver PARCC, SAT testing, GED testing, and was the central player (through Achieve) in the design of the National Common Core Standards. The GED Testing Service, while wholly owned by the American Council for Education, entered into a joint venture with Pearson to transform the GED for some 40 million adult Americans (one in five adults) lacking a high school diploma. This is an entirely new market.

Even with all of Pearson’s efforts, they are not the only game in town. McGraw-Hill is another publisher forging similar connections and making money hand over fist due to NCLB-mandated reading programs like Open Court and SRA Reading Mastery. 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. McGraw-Hill is also one of the biggest test publishers in the U.S. and publishes the CTBS, the central competitor to Pearson’s illustrious SAT-10.

The legislation forced upon states to adopt the curriculum (i.e., the Common Core) and its required testing measures (i.e., PARCC) essentially eliminates the possibility of consumer choice (supposedly a key concept in free market ideology) and requires that taxpayer dollars for education be handed over to Pearson and McGraw-Hill as the sole providers of nearly all educational resources available to the schools. It is frightening that Pearson, profiting billions from public education, is simultaneously operated by and sponsors organizations that promote the destruction of public education. It is essentially forcing the public to pay for the demise of its own education system.

It is possible that Pearson and its allies will deny and attempt to refute the information bulleted above. Perhaps the magnitude of their efforts will project the magnitude of their guilt. Whatever the semantics here, if a connection is really an association, if ownership is actually sponsorship, or if partnership actually means membership, it is interesting and coincidental that the above cast of characters constantly find themselves associated with each other. Additionally, the common friend to all seems to be Pearson.

If Pearson is truly interested in profit, as all corporations typically are, then consumer pressure is the best way to be heard. We at United Opt Out National are calling on everyone to take a stand against Pearson by doing any or all of the following:

  • Refuse to buy their materials or adopt them in your courses or for personal use.
  • Bring these concerns to local PTAs, school boards and libraries.
  • If required to use Pearson products due to professional obligations, do so under public protest.
  • Promote the use of ACT rather than SAT, as SAT is a Pearson product.
  • Inform Pearson of your actions.
  • If you are in higher education, discuss your concerns with your local Pearson representative, informing them that for these purposes you are not going to adopt their materials in any of your courses.

Raise public awareness so the brakes can be put on this madness. Please click here to see Education News’ sample letter, which you are encouraged to share so that others may refuse Pearson products.

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This article is written by or from a variety of publications on EducationViews.org on March 11, 2013 and is published in Education News.
Education Newshttp://educationviews.org/boycott-pearson-now/#
Please visit their site to read the Pearson Boycott Letter
and to sign your name and intention to Boycott Pearson
in their Comment Section by clicking here

For-Profit College Scams Involve Many ALEC Corporate Members

This is a difficult story to post.  Noted writer David Halperin has penned a number of articles detailing how many for-profit colleges are nothing more than taxpayer defrauding scams.

Here are some blurbs from these articles so that you may read up on this despicable subject.  The article titles, which are in blue, are the links to the articles themselves.

Sen. Harkin’s Report: For-Profit Colleges Leave Students With Debt But No DegreeJuly 29, 2012
For-profit colleges now account for about 10 percent of U.S. students but 25 percent for federal financial aid and nearly half of all student loan defaults. Many schools get 85-90 percent or more of their revenues from federal taxpayers, and they spend most of it on items like marketing, recruiting, and big executive salaries, rather than education and job placement. Not all for-profit colleges are that bad, but many, including most of the big ones, are.

Exclusive: Washington Post’s Kaplan and Other For-Profit Colleges Joined ALEC, Controversial Special Interest Lobby
For-profit colleges are the ultimate special interest. Many receive around 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, more than $30 billion a year, and many charge students sky-high prices. In recent years, it has been fully documented that a large number of these schools have high dropouts rates and dismal job placement, and many have been caught engaging in highly coercive and deceptive recruiting practices. Yet when the bad actions of these predatory schools got publicly exposed, the schools simply used the enormous resources they’ve amassed to hire expensive lobbyists and consultants, and to make campaign contributions to politicians, in order to avoid accountability and keep taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers.

4-Year Students At For-Profit Colleges Graduate Less Than Half As Often As Other Students, But Their Schools Do Create Jobs — For Lobbyists–April 2, 2012
The report underscores how expensive these for-profit schools are, despite their weak programs.  For full-time students attending four-year public colleges or universities, average price before financial aid grants was about $16,900 and $10,200 after; for nonprofit private schools, the average price before grant aid was about $32,700 and after aid $16,700; and for for-profit colleges, average price before grants was about $27,900 and $23,800 after – which, coupled with the high dropout rate, makes plain why so many for-profit college students are left with insurmountable debt.

Controversial For-Profit College Industry Gets Half of All The Funds From Vets Tuition Program–February 23, 2012
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) just released new Defense Department data showing that the troubled for-profit college sector — which has left many American deep in debt — received half of all military Tuition Assistance dollars last year — $280 million out of $563 million for college grants for active duty military.  During their decade of explosive growth, for-profit education companies have sent armies of high-pressure recruiters to military bases and set up makeshift campuses right nearby.  More recently, they have sent armies of lobbyists to convince the Obama Administration and Congress that they should not be held accountable.

George W. Bush To Speak At Vegas Convention Of For-Profit College Industry Enriched By His Administration–February 15, 2012
Bush is an appropriate speaker, in a sense, because his Administration’s deliberate actions made it easier for bad actors among for-profit schools to engage in a decade of waste, fraud, and abuse that earned them billions in profits but has left many former students deep in debt and without job prospects. Bush’s appearance is “presented” by Pearson, the education publishing company whose nonprofit foundation is now under investigation by the New York attorney general for allegedly seeking to improperly influence state education officials with free trips to destinations like London, Helsinki, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro.  I am happy to report that this event was Occupied by #Occupy LasVegas/#Occupy Together

Romney’s ‘Policy Fundraiser’ Tomorrow Reveals Reliance On Ed Advisor Who Set Stage for For-Profit College Abuses–February 8, 2012
Mitt Romney, who has declared his admiration for for-profit colleges while receiving donations from for-profit education executives, boasts as a top education advisor a former George Bush official whose decisions in government helped unleash a decade of waste, fraud, and abuse by the for-profit college industry.  Oh boy!  Look what we have to look forward to in a possible Romney Administration.

Bill Gates Praises CEO of Washington Post’s Kaplan Unit, Whose Profits Benefit Gates Foundation–February 3, 2012
The Washington Post Company seems on the verge of turning its flagship newspaper into a brochure for the company’s controversial, taxpayer-funded for-profit college division, Kaplan. The latest participant in this process is one of the world’s most accomplished men, Bill Gates. At a time when veterans groups, state attorneys general, and others are seeking reforms to prevent abuses by for-profit schools, Gates recently published — in the Post — an enthusiastic review of a book by Kaplan’s CEO. Gates failed to inform readers that the finances of his own Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are linked to the Post / Kaplan’s profits.

And then there is the article in the Washington Post that had to hurt them to publish in an expose about their own participation in these scams:
Report finds for-profit colleges serve shareholders over students-July 29, 2012
…for-profit colleges have failed to support those students, the report states, by prizing recruitment over retention. The colleges studied spent 23 percent of their revenue on marketing and recruiting, the report found, and 17 percent on instruction.  The publicly traded companies that operate for-profit colleges yielded an average profit margin of 20 percent in 2009 and paid an average $7.3 million to their chief executives, the report found.




The Gates Foundation’s Leveraged Philanthropy

Corporate Profit Versus Humanity on Three Fronts – The Effect of ALEC Members/Policies on the World

The Gates Foundation, and Gates personally, also own stock and reap profits from many of these same partner corporations. In addition, the Foundation owns a profit-generating portfolio of stocks which would seem to work against the Foundation’s declared missions…

Gates’ leveraged philanthropy model is a public-private partnership
to improve the world, partly through targeted research support but principally through public advocacy and tax-free lobbying to influence government policy. The goal of these policies is often to explicitly support profitability for corporate investors, whose enterprises are seen by the Gates Foundation as advancing human good. However, maximum corporate profit and public good often clash when its projects are implemented.

For example, chemical giant Monsanto has partnered with the Gates Foundation, which reportedly works to suppress local seed exchanges and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices through its global agricultural charity work. Fraud-prone drug giant GlaxoSmithKline  is a partner in the Foundation’s work to leverage its own relatively fractional contribution to vaccination efforts, so that it centrally controls enormous world funds for purchase, pricing, and delivery of vaccines for world public health. And in its U.S. education reform charity work, the Gates Foundation has increasingly shifted its funding to promote market domination by its British corporate education services partner, Pearson Education.

To read all about the ramifications of the various Gates Foundations intentions, please click here

KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut’s Owner Is The 12th Corporation To Drop ALEC

By Ian Millhiser on Apr 19, 2012

…”The loss of Yum! is also a significant loss for ALEC because the fast food giant held an important leadership role within the conservative group. YUM! co-chaired ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee which, among other things, fought to repeal laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers.”

To read this entire article, please click here.