school-in-a-box from Pearson

English: Cropped Pearson Longman logo.public domain image via Wikipedia
Update, October 2012: Pearson to offer ‘school in a box’ | The Sunday Times: "It would provide a “school in a box” — from teacher training, textbooks, software systems to exam assessment."

(Hat tip to Will Richardson's blog.) Back in the day, some homeschoolers, the more school-at-home types, made popular school in a box, a type of kit sold by various companies and sent through the mail. The appeal was clear: you get everything you need, a guide, instructions, day-by-day plans, complete materials including books, handouts ... everything in a nice box that can be  used to store materials when done.  Here's a similar box from UNICEF designed for emergency situations. 

Who knew that Texas ordered the same thing, in a far larger box, from the corporation Pearson?  This has to be read to be believed:  

The Pearson Graduate - The Texas Observer:
"Pearson, one of the giants of the for-profit industry that looms over public education, produces just about every product a student, teacher or school administrator in Texas might need. From textbooks to data management, professional development programs to testing systems, Pearson has it all—and all of it has a price. For statewide testing in Texas alone, the company holds a five-year contract worth nearly $500 million to create and administer exams. If students should fail those tests, Pearson offers a series of remedial-learning products to help them pass. Meanwhile, kids are likely to use textbooks from Pearson-owned publishing houses like Prentice Hall and Pearson Longman. Students who want to take virtual classes may well find themselves in a course subcontracted to Pearson. And if the student drops out, Pearson partners with the American Council on Education to offer the GED exam for a profit."
The sheer scale of the Pearson domination is amazing. (The lost jobs and lost tax revenue in Texas from outsourcing this work is staggering.) But I found this line especially meaningful:
“The bottom line is we have a heck of a lot more transparency than we did before,” Kress says. “It’s worth all the gold in the world to know how your child is doing year by year.” 
Isn't it, though?  That's what they're charging alright.
Lobbyist David Anderson remains worried. “Ultimately in public education,” he says, “when you have something as significant as the education of the child or of a generation of children, you want to make sure that, to the greatest extent possible, decisions are being made based on reliable and valid information, and decisions are being made for the right reasons.” He says students and parents must now contend with a business-education complex in which industries perpetuate ideologies, and ideologies keep industries afloat.

Anderson compares it to the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned of. Which makes sense, since Pearsonville does have a 1950s feel.
The military-industrial complex manufactures war (and profit) and the business-education complex is manufacturing credentials (and profit).  Mass prolonged schooling in the default factory mode has dumbed down a lot of people: baby doctors know nothing of breech births and often little about breastfeeding, trained economists at Ivy League schools could not see the financial crisis, and lots of wealthy businessmen (politicians) some with degrees in science just don't "believe in evolution" or are unable to clearly say they believe in the fact of evolution (they use antibiotics) but have differences with aspects of the cosmological model. 

Schooling, mandatory and insulated from families or communities or outside accountability of any kind, now stretches for twelve long years with several years before the beginning and several years afterward being highly recommended.  The journey is so long, as John Holt said, that it favors those who can stay in school the longest. And the school-to-prison pipeline will deal with the ever increasing number of kids for whom schools have zero tolerance. Fear not, Pearson has a plan for them, too:
IN AUGUST, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an ultra-conservative think tank, sponsored a panel discussion on the future of virtual learning. The room was packed with staffers for state lawmakers and company representatives. The idea of learning outside a traditional classroom has potentially widespread appeal for home schoolers, and high achievers and rural students whose high schools don’t offer AP statistics or Chinese classes, part-time students juggling jobs and coursework, and even, as Republican state Rep. Jerry Madden suggested, for kids locked up in prison who could spend their days earning credits.
Education Radio: Standing Up to Pearson: Speaking Out, Sharing Stories, Growing Resistance: "In this week’s program, we speak with some of those supporters about why they felt compelled to contact Barbara, how Pearson and/or the TPA are impacting their lives, and how we might further this resistance."

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