consultants are sandburs

Monday, March 16, 2015

Does Pearson pass the test?

Politico reports, this link. Col. Kline must love them, since they have love for those loving the Col.

Pearson works with for-profit career colleges, too: Its marketing materials boast that its consultants can help them “stay one step ahead” of federal regulations.

Indeed, Pearson has its hand in so many education services that corporate executive Donald Kilburn confidently predicted on an earnings call last summer that the North American division would flourish even if states and school districts had to cut their budgets.

As long as sales reps can show that Pearson products get results, Kilburn said, “the money will find a way to come to us.”

But the POLITICO review found that public contracts and public subsidies — including at least $98.5 million in tax credits from six states — have flowed to Pearson even when the company can’t show its products and services are producing academic gains.

[link in original] And earlier in Politico's reporting

“Pearson has been the most creative and the most aggressive at [taking over] all those things we used to take as part of the public sector’s responsibility,” said Michael Apple, a professor of education policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Pearson declined to answer specific questions about many of its contracts and business practices.

But several top executives said they always work toward deals that benefit not just the company but its public-sector partners — and above all, the millions of students who use Pearson products daily.

“The public trust,” Senior Vice President Shilpi Niyogi said, “is vital to everything we do.”

Stay ahead of the regulators, the sheriff, the Reaper, and the questioning; just sit on that stool and milk.

Opening image was Pearson's from here. Second image was not theirs.

Chamber music. It appears interesting that major opposition to standardized testing is organized nationwide effort of Chamber of Commerce outlets, e.g., here, here and here. Also, here. I can see some in the successful corporate world favoring connections as the old-fashioned way to get into the better schools, to graduate, and to get the better jobs along with their peers. After all, W was a Yale legacy case, wasn't he? One of those Chamber items links here.

There is irony in the Chamber questioning standardized testing at the same time ALEC wants to use it in attempted busting of the teachers union. You'd expect organized political forces with tentacles to be better able to be on the same page. Obviously, in this, trust the Chamber effort more than ALEC, indeed, trust prison populations more than ALEC, and you'll be close to spot on. ALEC is bad, very bad, for AMERICA.

Links possibly of interest; here, here and here. If you look at union busting, you have to wonder if the unions all get busted down in having a politica voice, who is it left calling the shots? And who would it be telling you that would be good, for AMERICA?

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Shifting from an opinion to a question series, Politico's review on Pearson, after all entitled, "No Profit Left Behind," reports

Its software grades student essays, tracks student behavior and diagnoses — and treats — attention deficit disorder. The company administers teacher licensing exams and coaches teachers once they’re in the classroom. It advises principals. It operates a network of three dozen online public schools. It co-owns the for-profit company that now administers the GED.

A top executive boasted in 2012 that Pearson is the largest custodian of student data anywhere.

In our times where we have seen troublesome NSA intrusion into our emails, and Google's selling our profile info per targeted advertisement aimed at us by advertisers paying money to Google; is it food for thought to consider a British firm holding status as "the largest custodian of student data anywhere," and as a profit-seeking private sector firm which might market data on your children, our nation's children collectively, as to who might by some criteria represent a likely loyal American and who might be problematic, in some way, perhaps more likely a criminal hence deserving before any crime is committed an elevated level of government attention? Or should we worry over foreign nations wanting to buy information on the nation's children as to whether they'd be inclined or disinclined to be boosters of one foreign nation or another?

Surely Pearson could explain, "Yes we said that about data custody, and it is true; but first of all we are responsible, as beyond reproach as Caesar's wife, and beyond that the information we collect and the AI programs we may use in data mining - drilling as we might into the database - are not of the type you'd need to worry over. Remember, the public trust is vital to everything we do."

Would you believe all that?

Should you categorically believe it -- From the firm that touts its testing effectiveness, with scant real evidence that any such effectiveness is real, especially if extrapolated as some want, to strongly influence retain-fire decisions over tenured teachers with years of classroom experience involving hundreds of different students over time, in a stable school district, in a stable town having stable school administrators? Isn't experience the best teacher, and what else might local control mean as a virtue? Also, might local control become too local, as with the report of voucher things happening in Louisiana, so that control by experienced statewide administration might better curb possible local excesses?

Another thought experiment -- What if it might just be Pearson selling targeted advertising as Google does, your child is dyslexic or on Ritalin for attention deficit disorder, with the family's computers curiously getting ads for differing pharmaceuticals for the same disorder, claiming greater benefit or lesser side effects. Or an ad touting a Pearson plan to provide online aid to assist dyslexic students to better achieve, one you can sign up for, for a fee. Would that be good or bad? Specific information which might aid a family decision process, isn't that good, or might it be viewed as intruding where school standardized testing was never meant to go?

It seems our US educational establishment arguably has gone overboard with a British private firm that collects and holds a vast body of arguably sensitive data about family members where a family might object.

What remedy might such a family have?

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