"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Big Business of Education Reform

There was good reason for educational publishing and testing corporations to celebrate Bush's arrival in Washington. After looking at the President's planned initiatives for state testing, Chief executive of Pearson Education, Peter Jovanovich, quipped to Education Week in February, 2001: "This almost reads like our business plan."

With the growing list of investigations and the widening coverage of complaints by those shut out of the insider feeding frenzy at US DOE (click here for news of another complaint filed by Robert Slavin in June), it is becoming easier to see the cozy relations among federal consultants and researchers, and the companies for which these same consultant and researchers devise solutions that are then recommendeded by US DOE, often receiving Federal money to sustain their product development and market their products.

Here is the way it works. The DOE recruits the true believers in the version of "scientifically-based" literacy that the President's advisor and enforcer, Reid Lyon, has placed front and center in the intellectually dishonest National Reading Panel Report. The DOE then sponsors studies, recruits academics, issues reports, and funds efforts to advance strategies that advocate the preferred solution. As the USA Today article points out, "since Reading First's inception in 2002, several well-known reading experts have both advised states on federal grant applications and worked for major publishers. Publisher Scott Foresman touts two former Reading First officials on its website."

In fact, McGraw-Hill, the Bush family favorite, is now taking on an assertive tone in their public financial pronouncements, or is that just a cozy confidence. They tout their "broad base of knowledge about what is happening across state lines." Indeed. And they are obviously proud of their overlapping roles as congressional advisor, grass roots consultant, policy expert, psychometric high priest:

While we have no interaction in creating general social policy, we do have conversations with members of Congress advising on technical issues. We work across all states, and are a contractor for 23 different states, so have a broad base of knowledge about what's happening across the nation for anyone drafting legislation at this time.

As states and districts implement NCLB--in the earlier grades and potentially at the high school level--we encourage educators, administrators, and policy makers to consult with us. CTB/McGraw-Hill can provide valuable policy resources, technical assistance, and advice. We are not only the leading publisher of educational assessments in the United States; we are also a key resource for information on standards and testing. Our national team of Evaluation Consultants is involved at a grass-roots level in each state-- meeting with educators, helping districts and schools understand the impact of the new law, and offering solutions that meet both the letter and spirit of the law--to improve teaching and learning.

Yes, yes, let's not forget teaching and learning.

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