NECC/EduBloggerCon Pearson Flap Comments

As you have probably already heard EduBloggerCon had some controversy this year in relation to how Pearson brought in cameras and mics and recorded much of the conversation happening in one room. There was much fallout associated with it and people have come down on different sides of the fray. One of the people involved from Pearson has started a blog and voiced that after some retrospection she has seen the point from those that felt intruded upon and that were peeved that some of their thoughts and opinions and ideas might end up making Pearson money. Someone Twittered tonight about the post by Elaine Roberts on her blog.

She identifies herself as an employee of Pearson and makes a bit of a mea culpa including:

“I understand the concern of grassroots leaders that somehow a corporation will try to create a product out of a movement, but I really didn’t get it until I walked through the Exhibit Hall at NECC and heard vendors talking, for example, about enabling students to be “socially networking.”  

“I thought about this as I walked around the exhibits (I was not at NECC as an exhibitor) and realized how easy it is for vendors to co-opt certain language and make it sound as if a product or service accomplishes something it might or might not.”



Several comments had already been left thanking Elaine for her transparency and honesty. I agree … however, I guess I’ve just been burned too many times and I wanted to be sure that more of my concerns were addressed, so I left the following comment:

“Please note that teachers have a very shaky relationship with publishing companies. 1) Teachers are VERY used to their districts adopting a program, being promised training and support and receiving little of either. 2) Publishers take ideas and lessons from teachers, and give little in return for what could and often should be distributed for free while making lots of money along the way. By charging large sums they actually cut access to many students by drying up funds that could be spent on materials, field trips, guest speakers, art programs and I could continue. We are NOT OK WITH THAT! 3) I’m not as forgiving as Vicki … I am VERY suspicious of a company wanting to “learn these tools” … free tools by the way, without planning on making money from them, sucking money from schools. 4) Unfortunately most states require schools to buy programs from publishing companies. The programs are very overpriced and again suck money from schools as well as handcuff teachers from doing what they have been trained to do since the money to support lessons teachers design themselves have been spent on “programs” that come from publishing companies. 5) I have no problem with companies making money, but companies better get a clue how they have soured their relationship with education … deserved or not, publishing companies are perceived OFTEN as blood suckers that are a HUGE part of the problem in US education … WAY too much about making money and not NEARLY enough about REALLY helping teachers and students do well.”

Learning is messy!

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5 thoughts on “NECC/EduBloggerCon Pearson Flap Comments

  1. Brian,
    I think you made your points well. Everyone has to decide how their own actions align with their personal mission and beliefs. The products Pearson makes are so antithetical to my beliefs about learning that I had to say something at EduBloggerCon about it. But really, the only actions I can control are my own.

    No one thinks that people who work for Pearson are bad people, or that they are doing bad things on purpose. They are constantly being validated by educators buying their products and educators begging for “solutions” that will make test scores go up and be “teacher-proof”. If Pearson actually made products that promoted social, constructivist learning, they would quickly go out of business. I’m resigned to the fact that MOST people with money in education want to buy magic solutions, which Pearson happily packages and sells. They would be silly to try to sell something that actually requires good teachers and hard work to accomplish.

    So while your message about not trusting the publishers is extremely on point, the bigger problem is that many, many educators are ASKING for this. It’s not Pearson’s fault that they are taking advantage of a market begging to buy snake oil. It’s simply smart business practice to co-opt any language or idea to help them make that sale.

    In my mind, it’s not Pearson we need to convince, it’s educators, especially district admins and superintendents. Until they stop asking for magic wand solutions, these companies will provide them.

  2. Sylvia: Thanks for the comment, I agree – the combination of wanting “packaged solutions” and state laws that mandate that programs must be purchased from publishers along with some of the mandates of NCLB are tough to overcome. I wonder if someone put together a “program” that wasn’t heavy on textbooks, but instead was heavy on training and time for teachers to plan and develop materials … in other words put the money into facilitating teachers and students … would a model something like that be adopted by some school districts?

  3. Brian,

    The farther a person is from actually teaching in a classroom, the more affluent the district they are from, and the more “enlightened” their district leadership – the more likely they are to see nothing – or very little – wrong with Pearson’s approach.

    I agree with you, so guess my situation :) – Mark

  4. I responded to Brian and others in my blog today. The issues surrounding any publisher, including Pearson, are complex. I think Sylvia is right on point when she says “In my mind, it’s not Pearson we need to convince, it’s educators, especially district admins and superintendents. Until they stop asking for magic wand solutions, these companies will provide them.” On the other hand, there are folks working at Pearson who are trying to create products and services that actually do make a difference and are more than snake oil. But as Brian so ably pointed out, though I’m relatively new to this side of publishing world, Pearson and others may have years of troublesome or problematic reputations and credibility to overcome. It would be incredible hubris to assume we could march into any district and make amends just because we said we’ve changed.

    My little corner of the universe has unwittingly smacked into several glass walls when we’ve tried to talk with districts angry at Pearson for one reason or the other. As much as I’d like them to differentiate between the organizations, I appreciate why they don’t.

    I noted this in my nomargins blog, but I’ll say here that I’d like you to continue this conversation at The more Pearson knows about the kinds of changes that need to be implemented, perhaps there is a greater likelihood of instigating change.