The education reform debate—one often derailed by both the tone taken and then the debate about that tone (and not the issues)—appears determined to have an Evil Person (or Evil Corporation) to slay.
There was Michelle Rhee (whose Time cover really was just begging for it), and then Bill Gates. But to be honest, the list of candidates for Evil Person has been pretty long.
If you mention a person directly, you are immediately discounted as using ad hominem (although in many if not most of those cases, legitimate issues have been raised about expertise, experience, and even intentions—and not ad hominem at all).
Now, Pearson has entered the picture and prompted a new round (and maybe a new level) of hyperbole.
Data security about children/students, surveillance of Twitter and social media—Pearson has become the manifestation of Big Brother for those skeptical of technology and high-stakes testing.
To that, I’d say that we can have a reasonable debate about whether the comparison is hyperbole or an apt literary analogy, but the larger point I’d like to make is that in ether the debate or the comparison, we are likely missing the important issue.
Pearson has earned 8 billion—4 billion in the U.S.—in annual sales as a consequence of the accountability policies adopted by those elected to office within a democratic process.
I’m sorry to have to note this fact, but Pearson is not a Evil Demigod or some such.
Pearson and its profits are a consequence of very clear and consistent decisions by people in power and the people who put them in power.
Pearson is the logical conclusion of democracy and capitalism—not some totalitarian monster.
When you look at the Pearson phenomenon, and its relationship with education policy and the drain on tax dollars, you must admit this: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
And what hath we wrought?
- Publishing Giant Pearson Hauls in Billions in Education Dollars, But Do Students Benefit?
- No profit left behind, Stephanie Simon
- Poverty and Testing in Education: “The Present Scientifico-legal Complex”
- “A generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure”: Deleuze
If Pearson makes you angry, be sure to consider just who is to blame.