Excellent piece I highly recommend to all. Three important words from within: "Conflict of Interest."
Alan Singer | Huffington Post
According to a recent article on Reuters,
an international news service based in Great Britain, "investors of all
stripes are beginning to sense big profit potential in public
education. The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more
than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The
entire education sector, including college and mid-career training,
represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than
the energy or technology sectors."
a British multi-national conglomerate, is one of the largest private
businesses maneuvering for U.S. education dollars. The company had net
earnings of 956 million pounds or approximately 1.5 billion dollars in
Starting in May 2014, Pearson Education will take over teacher
certification in New York State as a way of fulfilling the state's
promised "reforms" in its application for federal Race to the Top money.
The evaluation system known as the Teacher Performance assessment or TPA was developed at Stanford University with support from
Pearson, but it will be solely administered, and prospective teachers
will be entirely evaluated, by Pearson and its agents. Pearson is adverting for
current or retired licensed teachers or administrators willing to
evaluate applicants for teacher certification. It is prepared to pay $75
The Pearson footprint appears to be everywhere and taints academic research as well as government policy. For example, the Education Development Center
(EDC), based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is a "global non-profit
organization that designs, delivers and evaluates innovative programs to
address some of the world's most urgent challenges in education,
health, and economic opportunity." EDC
works with "public-sector and private partners" to "harness the power
of people and systems to improve education, health promotion and care,
workforce preparation, communications technologies, and civic
engagement." In education, it is involved in curriculum and materials
development, research and evaluation, publication and distribution,
online learning, professional development, and public policy
development. According to its website, its funders
include Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, the Gates Foundation, and of course,
Pearson Education, all companies or groups that stand to benefit from
its policy recommendations.
EDC sponsored a study
on the effectiveness of new teacher evaluation systems, "An examination
of performance-based teacher evaluation systems in five states," that
Pearson is promoting but there are two VERY BIG FLAWS
in the study. First, of the five states included in the study --
Delaware, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas -- four
(Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas) are notorious anti-union
states where teachers have virtually no job security or union
protection, and Delaware used the imposition of new teacher assessments
to make it more difficult for teachers to acquire tenure. In Texas,
North Carolina, and Georgia collective bargaining by teachers is
illegal. Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina used the new assessments to
make it easier to fire teachers and Georgia used the assessments to
determine teacher pay. The second flaw is that the study draws no
connection between the evaluation system and improved student learning.
According to the Financial Times of London, a Pearson owned property, in what I consider a conflict-of-interests, Susan Fuhrman,
the President of Teachers College at Columbia University has been a
"Non-Executive Independent Director of Pearson PLC" since 2004 and a
major stockholder in the company with over 13,000 shares worth according
to my estimate over twenty million dollars. Fuhrman
also is "president of the National Academy of Education, and was
previously dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of
Pennsylvania and on the board of trustees of the Carnegie Foundation
for the Advancement of Teaching."
There has been some resistance
to Pearson's influence over American education. In May 2012, students
and teachers in the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus School of
Education launched a national campaign challenging the forced
implementation of Teacher Performance Assessment. They argued that the
field supervisors and cooperating teachers who guided their teaching
practice and observed and evaluated them for six months in middle and
high school classrooms were better equipped to judge their teaching
skills and potential than people who had never seen nor spoken with
them. They have refused to participate in a pilot program organized by
Pearson and to submit the two 10-minute videos of themselves teaching
and a take-home test. They are supported by United Opt Out National, a
website that organized a campaign and petition drive to boycott Pearson evaluations of students, student teachers, and teachers. In June 2012, New York parents protested against Pearson-designed reading tests that included stand reading passages and meaningless choices.
The question that must be addressed is whether the British publishing
giant Pearson and its Pearson Education subsidy should determine who is
qualified to teach and what should be taught in New York State and the
United States? I don't think so! Not only did no one elect them, but
when people learn who they are, they might not want them anywhere near a
school -- or a government official.
From what I can make out from its website, the three key players at Pearson
and Pearson Education are Glen Moreno, chairman of the Pearson Board of
Directors, Dame Marjorie Morris Scardino, overall chief executive for
Pearson, and William Ethridge, chief executive for North American
Education. Although the largest stockholders
are a British investment firm called Legal & General Group PLC
which controls 32 million shares, or 4 percent of the company and the
Libyan Investment Authority with 24 million shares, or 3 percent of the
company. According to the Financial Times of London, the Libyan Investment Authority was founded by Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam, his heir apparent until the regime's collapse, in January 2007.
Glen Moreno is wealthy, powerful, influential, and highly suspect. According to Wikipedia,
Moreno was born in California in 1943 and has a law degree from Harvard
University. He worked for 18 years at Citigroup in Europe and Asia,
running the investment banking and trading divisions. Moreno was a director of Fidelity International Ltd. and became chairman of Pearson, the publisher of the British newspaper Financial Times in October 2005.
Moreno was chairman of UK Financial Investments,
the group set up by the British government to protect public funds used
to bail-out banks after the 2008 global economic collapse. He was
forced to resign in 2009 when it was revealed that he was a trustee of
Liechtenstein Global Trust (LGT), a private bank accused of aiding tax
Moreno was also deputy chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, Great Britain's largest mortgage lender, but stepped down there in May 2012.
Among the Pearson troika, Moreno is the lowest paid, although he apparently has other resources. According to Forbes,
his total compensation in 2011 was a little over $600,000. He does
however own a home in London and a cattle farm in Virginia and according
to the Times of London,
managed to contribute half a million pounds to the British Conservative
Party in 2009, and purchase 200,000 shares of Lloyd stock in 2010.
Dame Marjorie was also originally an American but became a British
citizen. She has been CEO of Pearson since 1997. Before becoming CEO of
Pearson she was a lawyer in Georgia and a newspaper publisher. In 2007, Forbes
magazine placed her seventeenth on its list of the 100 most powerful
women in the world. She was named a "Dame of the British Empire" in
2010. According to Forbes,
her total compensation in 2011 was $2,455,000. But that represents a
tiny fraction of her compensation that includes stock options. Scardino
holds 1.5 million shares of Pearson stock.
William Ethridge became chief executive of Pearson's North American Education division in 2008. He has what Pearson
considers educational experience because he previously worked for
Prentice Hall and Addison Wesley. At Pearson he has been head of its
Higher Education, International and Professional Publishing division and
chairman of CourseSmart, a Pearson sponsored consortium of electronic
textbook publishers. According to Forbes, his total compensation in 2011 was $1,390,000. He holds a half million shares of Pearson stock.
According to ILSE
or London South East, which reports British stock market transactions,
on July 30 and 31, 2012, Dame Marjorie and William Ethridge were heavily
involved in Pearson stock transfers and sales on the London exchanges
earning them millions of dollars. If I read the ILSE report correctly,
the percentage of their holdings that Ethridge and Scardino sold seemed
to be a bit less than 4 percent of their total holdings. The sales
brought Ethridge alone 20,474,712 GBX or approximately 32,350,000 in
This was at a time when financial observers including the influential
Nomura Group were questioning whether Pearson stock was overvalued. ILSE
reported that "Pearson had warned in April that its adjusted operating
profit would be down in the first half of 2012 . . . Sales at Penguin
dropped 4 percent, with profits falling 48 percent to £22 million, which
management said was caused by lower sales in its more profitable U.S.
market. Uncertainty over potential national and local government
spending cuts in the U.S. continues to cast a shadow over the group's
In other words, Pearson's chief operating officers, who are also
heavily invested in the company, are busy trading stocks and racking up
dollars and pounds while the corporation's financial situation is shaky.
And their solution is to sell, sell, sell their products in the United
Are these the people we want designing tests, lessons, and curriculum
for our students and deciding who is qualified to become teachers?