Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chaos Favors Pearson

Robert Shepherd:

When I started in the educational publishing business years ago, there were 30 companies competing with one another. When the teachers at a school got together to decide what book they wanted to use, there were many, many options. Now, there are three big providers that have almost the entire market. What were previously competing companies are now separate imprints from one company.

And the CC$$ creates ENORMOUS economies of scale for those few remaining publishers, making it almost impossible for any other publisher to compete with them.

And inBloom creates a single monopolistic gateway through which computer-adaptive online materials must pass. A private monopoly created by the state.

Are people OK with this? Where are the articles and essays and speeches about these issues from those opposed to Education Deform? One can understand the silence from the deformers–they created these deforms precisely in order to ensure their monopoly positions. But . . . but . . . why the deafening silence from the other side?

Me, in comments:

I would argue that the crux of the problem in this facet is not the Common Core -- or national standards as a concept -- but the power and resources of Pearson and the other big players in the context of constant, rapid policy churn and manufactured crisis.

In the *long run*, in a stable policy environment, with the internet as a distribution and composition platform, stable national standards, particularly if they were of the quality of some of the better national or provincial curriculum frameworks used elsewhere, would tend to favor innovation and smaller players. Particularly if standardized testing was not central.

That's the opposite of where we are right now of course, so Pearson wins the day. If nothing else, we're very much in "nobody ever lost their job for buying IBM, I mean, Microsoft, I mean Pearson" territory.

I'm not trying to make this point to defend Common Core, Pearson, etc. But at this point, chaos and shock doctrine policy favors Pearson more than the Common Core does. If the Common Core goes away, a whole bunch of startup potential market rivals will die a sudden death (I don't care if they die, I'm just pointing this out). Pearson will *still* be in a better chance to react to the next thing than their commercial competitors for the foreseeable future.

Essentially, every time you have to deliver a new curriculum yesterday, or else, the more likely you're just going to buy it from Pearson.

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