Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pearson and MCPS form partnership

The Parents Coalition of Montgomery County first brought to light a new partnership between Pearson Education Inc, a for-profit company interested in making a buck, and MCPS, a strapped for cash public school district interested in providing a high quality education to its many residents. In the agreement, Pearson will pay $2.5 million plus potential royalties generated from revenues, in exchange for the rights to sell MCPS generated curriculum for grades 1-5 to other local school districts. While motivated by different priorities, it is conceivable that both MCPS and Pearson can serve their respective interests; but for the public, this has been a shotgun wedding with little (or no) time for reflection or input.

The Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum gives a good summary here. And Valerie Strauss all but drives off a cliff here and then again here, expressing her unrequited love for Pearson Education. A snippet from Strauss for you:

Selling [MCPS's] name and reputation to a for-profit company has serious, unfortunate consequences. It allows business concerns to dictate the two-year curriculum development schedule; being the first, or one of the first, to market a curriculum aligned with new standards adopted by many states could be quite a lucrative business move.

And it gives Pearson customers the right to come into MCPS classrooms to look at the product in action - effectively making staff and students salespeople. Lovely.

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