This article in Education Week calls attention to potential “conflict of interests” between educational publishers and those that are behind the scenes of the national standards push.
Essentially, here’s the thrust of the article…
The Literacy Research Association sent a letter Oct. 21 to the groups overseeing the development of common standards that, among other points, expresses concern that many of the authors are “representatives of multiple commercial entities that stand to profit enormously from selling curricula, instructional materials, assessments, and consultancies as the standards are rolled out.”
On one hand, can you really be surprised? When billion of dollars of government money is on the line, there are going to be commercial wolves salivating for the cash. (It happens in defense, construction, telecommunications and so on.)
On the other hand, the people who are authoring the national standards are some of America’s foremost thinkers and experts on students, achievement and blah, blah, blah. I mean where else would the Dept. of Ed turn for this authorship? And the educational publishers need these type of people to author their materials as well… so where do you think they are going to turn?
To the same people.
The conflict of interest was inevitable.
The solution seems kind of obvious to me. Make the contract read, if you write the standards you can’t author/consult/and so on for commercial educational publishing/testing materials for say, 5 years. (Or, if you have accepted money for authoring/consulting educational publishing materials, you are automatically excluded from national writing standards.)
Either way, should we be shocked that some people want to set it up so that “the folks in Congress get to vote on their own pay raise” (cause it’s kind of analogous)?
In parts of school and educational policy these days, all you have to do is follow the money.National standards means national standardized testing… and who will profit off of the implementation and administration of that I wonder?
The chumminess is troubling — even more so when it gets obfuscated behind closed doors, through back channels and what-not. But, hey, Joe and Jane parent… whadda they know. After all, they are entrusting both their kids and their tax dollars to us so that we can, as professionals, make these “best decisions” for them..
Hard to make a best decision for somebody else’s kids when you are staring at 10 figure contracts on the line.
That’s right BILLIONS are hanging in the balance.
But the internet makes for an amazing watchdog, does it not? People with hands in cookie jars… they gotta be more careful than ever, don’t they?