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Pearson $22 Million Contract With Huntsville AL Schools Exposed

 

Pearson Contract

 

By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org

 

Editor: The Report Card has published a series of articles pro and con about on the Common Core K-12 Standard now required in 46 states. Diane Ravtich, and Sandra Stotsky well known educational reformers have come out against the Common Core saying. Dr. Stotsky has asserted that the CCS will drive up costs and lower literary and educational standards. Paul Horton, history teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School has documented that Pearson, a $9 Billion publishing giant and CCS supplier has engaged in influence peddling. Diane Ravitch said: Pearson is overstepping the bounds of the role of a profit-making business. The corporation is acting as a quasi-government agency in several instances.”

An Alabama official who wished to remain anonymous, sent us a copy of sweeping $21 Million five-year contract between Pearson and the City of Huntsville. Population 180,000. The official was concerned that the there were no competitive bids for the service, and that the contract gave Pearson too much control over the curriculum and the operation of important local functions. The contract gives Pearson a total grip on Hunstville schools because it controls student content, teacher training, the Information Technology Platform, and apparently testing.

Keith Ward, Director of Communication and digital services for Hunstville Schools stated that the contract has been executed and work is being implemented. Mr. Ward was unaware of  whether there was a competitive bidding process or not and stated that he would research the matter and get back with the information.  Mr. Ward said that the main purpose of the contract was to permit Huntsville to move forward with digital learning. According to the anonymous Alabama official, The entire reason that the contract was developed in the first place was to ensure that Huntsville schools were CCS compliant. So Sandra Stotsky’s argument that Common Core Standards would be too costly seem to have a strong basis in fact. Many questions remain. Was there a competitive bidding process? Is CCS the driver behind all of this expense?

 

 

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One Response to “Pearson $22 Million Contract With Huntsville AL Schools Exposed”

  1. Russell says:

    Bill Korach,

    Thanks for this post and for asking questions about the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education. There aren’t many of us doing so.

    First off, here’s a link to the totality of the contract. The screen shot you have is accurate, but here’s the actual document.

    https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=2061&AID=16460&MID=853

    When Wardynski was promoting this contract, he claimed it was merely $18 million. As you can see, he was off by about $4 million. (But what’s $4 million between friends.) I wrote about the increase here: http://www.geekpalaver.com/2012/07/02/wardynski-underestimates-cost-of-contracts-again/

    You asked Keith Ward if the bid law had been followed. The answer, should you ever receive one (which I highly doubt), will be that Pearson is a sole source provider exempting them from the bid process.

    They will, of course, not be able to provide you with any documentation supporting this claim, but it is the claim that they will offer you. (Again, supposing that you ever hear from Mr. Ward again.)

    You are wise in pointing out that CCSS will drive up the costs of education. Recently, CCSS supporters had quite a scare when the Alabama Legislature introduced a bill to revoke Alabama’s support of CCSS (or as we have labeled them here the College and Career Readiness Standards–cause, you know, we simply cannot support anything that Washington introduces here in Bama).

    When he was asking people to contact the legislators to ask them to vote against the bill, Dr. Wardynski stated on February 21st that revoking CCSS in Huntsville would cost the district to lose approximately a $40 million dollar investment. His actual words were:

    “So what that would mean for our schools system is essentially, we’ve made about a $40 million dollar investment in our curriculum in the last two years, and that would all be for naught.”

    http://www.geekpalaver.com/2013/02/23/alabama-leads-by-repealing-common-core-hb254sb190/

    That figure of $40 million comes from the $22 million we’re paying Pearson, and $517,759.37 that we’ve paid to Renaissance Learning for their STAR Enterprises test to test our teachers based on their students’ “growth.” That probably also includes the $10,624,000 that we’re paying to HP to lease laptops for every student in the district over the next 3 years.

    Who knows where the other money comes from. As I pointed out in one of the links above, Wardynski regularly fudges numbers when he thinks it suits his purposes to do so.

    So, in answer to your question about costs:

    Let’s assume that Wardynski did in fact overestimate the investment the district has made in CCSS by a factor of 2.

    That means that CCSS has cost our district $20 million to begin implementing.

    There are 135 districts in the state of Alabama.

    Since the Alabama Legislature was convinced to shelve their idea of revoking CCSS in Alabama, that means that, according to Wardynski’s numbers, implementing CCSS in Alabama alone will cost the state $2.7 billion dollars.

    If that number is average for the nation, we’re looking at $121 billion for the 45 other states that have signed on to CCSS.

    This is quite a windfall for Pearson, HP, Microsoft, and Renaissance Learning assuming that others follow Huntsville’s “lead.”

    CCSS is not the driving force behind the this expense (even thought Wardynski is happy to lay blame there). The driving force behind this expense is, in my opinion, the privatization of our public education system in the name of Educational Reform.

    Sorry to be so longwinded, but thanks for bringing more light to these issues.

    If you ever hear back from Keith Ward, I’d love to hear what excuse he offers you.

    Sincerely,
    Russell Winn
    Parent, Teacher, Blogger Huntsville, Alabama.

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