It hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I want my friends to know that I will be joining the Board of Directors of Pearson Education. This was not an easy decision, and I know that some of my friends, particularly those on the left, will be angry with me. I ask you to withhold your judgment until you have finished reading this.
Pearson has been criticized, unjustly in my view, for putting profits ahead of children, but I have gotten to know some of Pearson’s leadership, and I can attest that they are caring parents who are devoted to their children. Recently I took one of my grandchildren to a polo match at the home of a Pearson executive. When my little girl fell and scraped her knee, our host attended to her every need. He could not have been more caring. Pearson hostile or indifferent to children? I don’t think so. I know better.
Pearson has gotten a lot of bad press, and I may have contributed to that with my reporting about the ‘Opt Out’ movement and its attacks on assessment. For example, when the Pearson Foundation was forced to shut down and fined $7.7 million for some questionable practices, the press coverage made it sound as if the Pearson Foundation had been guilty of child molestation. All it did was entertain some decision-makers in an effort to create a relaxed atmosphere where they could make important decisions about purchasing tests and other education products, perhaps from Pearson Education but also available from McGraw-Hill and other companies.
Why have I accepted Pearson’s invitation? Well, it’s not the money. Yes, it is true that I will receive something north of $100,000 per year plus stock options, but I publicly pledge that I will donate some of that largess to charity.
I am doing this because, frankly, I believe I can do more good from the inside than I can from outside . Pearson is huge, with fingers in every aspect of American education, from testing to teacher evaluation. Carping from outside will not soften the edges of this behemoth nor restrain its harsher hyper-capitalistic instincts, but my strong commitment to holistic, child-centered education will move Pearson in a direction that its critics will one day celebrate.
I am sure some cynical readers are thinking that I will now start pulling my punches in this blog, but I give you my word that I will not hold back. Whenever Randi Weingarten of the AFT or Lily Garcia of the NEA cross the line, they will hear about it from me. If I learn about teachers lying down on the job, I will write about it. If McGraw-Hill behaves unethically, you will read about it right here. And if I praise Pearson, it will be because Pearson is an honorable company.
Why does Pearson want me on its Board? I believe the invitation is based on their respect for my 41 years of ‘telling it like it is’ in American education. I’m sure the cynics, aware that the current Board is entirely Caucasian, believe that Pearson wants me for diversity. Wrong! Pearson assured me that my status as a Native American (I am 1/128th pure Cherokee) did not influence its decision.
As always, friends and countrymen, I am grateful to you for lending me your eyes and ears.
My term on the Pearson Board of Directors begins today, April First.
- 1. I am not the first ‘outsider’ to seek to restrain (and retrain) Pearson. The current President of Teachers College served on its Board for many years.↵