Kelly Spencer, Contributing writer
Scott Foresman, Penguin, Harcourt and Prentice Hall are all names that may sound vaguely familiar to you. Look at the stack of outrageously priced books you bought this semester and you’ll understand why. These are only a few of the publishing companies now monopolized by Pearson, a publishing company and testing/assessment service based out of the U.K., working primarily in ‘serving’ education. Pearson also owns Adobe, Longman, Wharton, Puffin and Allyn & Bacon under their publishing division and has stakes in Nook.
Now what does this mean in regards to college students? Well, this one company essentially runs the textbook market, allowing them to have the last call on prices, which have been steadily on the rise. The Huffington Post reported that textbook prices have increased 812 percent over the last 30 years. That’s more of an increase than college tuition has seen. They’ve been called out for publishing new editions of textbooks with little updated from the last, forcing students to buy new textbooks at exorbitant prices, which, as we all know too well, means that when it comes time to sell back books to the bookstore at the end of the year, only a fraction of the original price is made back. Pearson acquires over half of their annual revenue from the United States, leaving students footing the bill.
Pearson is not only reaching into the wallets of college students, but is simultaneously pushing the United States education system up against a wall. The company is a large backer for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an initiative to develop a common standard for all state curriculums. Common Core is heavily standardized test based and takes away the freedom of educators in their own classrooms. Pearson has teamed up with the Gates Foundation in funding and implementing the standards. That’s right, multinational monopoly, pairing up with Bill Gates, is orchestrating the future of American education. Common Core strips the freedom of expression and creativity in education for both teachers and students, while privatizing education, all in order to turn over a profit.
In 2012, Pearson’s revenue had increased by 12 percent since the previous year, bringing them in at $1.16 billion. You would think that by how well the company is doing, it might be reflective of the work they do. Not so much.
Between 2000 and 2012, Minnesota, Florida and Virginia among many other states, received millions of dollars in settlements from Pearson due to errors in test grading. Between 2005 and 2006, the company scored over 4,000 SAT college admissions tests incorrectly. The New York Times reported that this year in New York City, Pearson excluded thousands of eligible students for testing into gifted programs and of those who were tested, hundreds received incorrect scores. This is all while Pearson is in a five-year contract with New York State worth $32 million.
The corruption within the Pearson monopoly is beyond belief. Their privatization of public education, monopolization of educational publishing and overall gross misconduct is leading to some of the worst issues the American education system has ever seen. Here’s to the future of commodified students, fluent in standardized test riddles and laden with debt (most likely holding a complimentary Pearson water bottle.)