THE BLOG
08/08/2016 06:44 am ET Updated Aug 09, 2017

Pearson Profits Sag, Stock Plummets, U.S. President Sacked, and More Pearson Blues

In January 2015, Jennifer Reingold wrote an article for Fortune magazine that she titled, "Everybody Hates Person." Here are some more reasons why to hate the British publishing, testing, and educational imperialist giant.

Pearson PLC's semi-annual report to stockholders advised the company was "trading in-line with the expectations set in February." It repeated earlier claims that "Our growth and simplification plan is on-track and our 2018 goals are unchanged. If current exchange rates persist until the end of 2016 the earnings per share guidance range will increase . . ."

But stock analysts and stockholders didn't buy it. Sales had declined 7%. Revenue was down 11%. Operating profit was down £39m or $50 million from the previous year. Liberum, London-based investment bankers, were skeptical of the company's "forecasts" and issued a "sell" rating on Pearson stock. They project "The risk of another profit warning for Pearson for FY16 appears relatively high."

In response, on July 29, 2016 Pearson stock plummeted by 10% on the London exchange. Pearson was the biggest loser on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index. In a show of corporate desperation, Pearson fired its senior North American division leader, moved him to a "senior business development role," and replaced him with Kevin Capitani, a former tech exec with no education experience, who had basically been unemployed for the previous two years, "Taking time with my family."

Some of Pearson's moves to keep afloat would be laughable if they were not so grotesque. I thank Angelo Gavrielatos of Education International for bring this to my attention and hopefully a broader audience.

At a September 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit world leaders adopted a series of goals including the promise that by 2030 they would "ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education" and that they would "substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries."

What did Pearson and corporate and foundation friends who supposedly support the goals do? First they stepped up efforts to market for-profit education in the Third World direct contradiction to the goals they supposedly endorsed. Then they formed a private corporation, Project Everyone, and copyrighted the icons and summary titles being used to promote the United Nations initiative.

Meanwhile, two of global education's biggest corporate imperialists, Sir Michael Barber, Pearson's Chief Education advisor, and Joel Klein, former New York City Schools Chancellor and former Chief Executive of Amplify, a Murdoch ed/tech company that was sold because of slow growth and a dismal profit outlook, announced a partnership "to spark innovation in education." Of course their model of innovation means "opening up systems," read school systems, for exploitation by profit seeking companies like Pearson through out-sourcing school management, curriculum development, testing, vouchers for private schools, and the creation of private and charter schools. Translated their call for "Unleashing Greatness" means that as our business ventures fail governments and foundations should support our efforts to further destroy public education.

THIS JUST IN: New York city and state politicians have been chest-bumping each other because of higher student passing rates on Pearson designed Common Core aligned high-stakes assessments administered last spring. State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia put a bit of a damper on the celebration when she pointed out that the tests were shorter and students had extended time, so results were not comparable to past tests. Now NYS Allies for Public Education has discovered a new problem with the reported test results. According to their press release the "raw points necessary to achieve proficient performance (level 3) were lower on eleven out of the twelve 2016 NYS Common Core tests." They are demanding to know if this one done to artificially raise scores so politicians can claim the testing regime is a success.

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