When I was a kid, I loved playing the game Monopoly. At first, I just thought of the game as a way to move the cute little doggy around the board. After a while though, I started to understand that the purpose of the game was to buy as much stuff as possible and then charge other people so much money for using my stuff that they’d eventually have to just give up and give me everything.
It was a strange mix of euphoria and shame when I beat my siblings and parents and became the biggest capitalist in the family.
Now that I understand how monopolies work in the real world, my feelings are less complex. I think it is just plain shameful to manipulate the market in order to make as much profit as possible, no matter the outcome for others. I dislike capitalism. I despise monopolies.
So just imagine how hard it is for me to deal with our current educational system.
“But wait,” I bet you’re saying. “Public education is a not-for-profit enterprise!” Hahahahaha, oh, silly silly you!
You need to grab your Google and learn all you can about Pearson Corporation. Then you’ll understand how a monopoly is destroying public education.
Let me give you just a few little introductory facts, though, just to get you started off. I promise that I am not making any of this up. Ready?
A few years ago it was clear to everyone in the world of education that “No Child Left Behind” was a complete and total failure. So the education reformers in the government decided that it would be a good idea to create a set of national standards for all children from grades k-12, but they needed some funding to get the job done. Guess who ponied up a whole bunch of money? Yup. Pearson Corporation. (Along with the Gates Foundation, but I digress.)
Once the standards were created (The Common Core State Standards, or CCSS), it was obvious that schools would need new curriculum materials in order to teach the standards. OK…… So who do you think markets the largest numbers of CCSS curriculum materials, in all academic subjects? You got it. Pearson Corporation again.
And when it was time to create and market a test that would decide whether or not students were meeting the Common Core Standards, Pearson was awarded a contract to manage the tests (called PARCC tests, coming this spring).
But wait, it gets better! Pearson as also been awarded the contract to for assessing whether or not schools have the appropriate infrastructure and technology for the administration of the PARCC. And of course, if the schools need to buy new technology upgrades, who do you think will sell it to them? Right again!
And Pearson is now marketing the Teacher Evaluation Tool which will be tied to student scores on Pearson’s tests.
So let’s think about this for a minute, with the game Monopoly in mind.
A school district pours tens of thousands of dollars into CCSS aligned curriculum, sold by Pearson. Then the kids take the test (managed and marketed by Pearson) and they maybe don’t do so well. The district then uses a Pearson assessment to see if they need to buy more or better teaching tools. Told that they do, Pearson is happy to oblige by selling the school lots of new stuff. Meanwhile, the state is paying Pearson for the teacher evaluations.
Does this seem just a little bit shady to you? I could go on; Pearson is now the owner of the only company with approval to market an “objective” assessment for ADHD. They are involved in administering the GED, the GMATs and several other tests. Every time the CCSS is “tweaked” by its makers (including Pearson), school districts need to fork over more money for the “newly aligned” curriculum materials.
All of a sudden I can clearly remember just how wrong it felt when I watched my little brother land on Boardwalk and burst into tears. I felt like a bully.
Squeezing as much money as possible out of our “not-for-profit” schools is just plain wrong.
Please check out these sites for more detailed and articulate arguments about this topic. Please support our kids and our schools by taking the corporate piracy out of our classrooms.