Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools has sold rights to its elementary curriculum, which is under development, to a global publishing company for $2.25 million and a percentage of sales revenues, the Washington Post reports.
Under the terms, Pearson, the world’s largest education publisher, will acquire the expertise of one of the nation’s top school systems and the right to use its name and its top employees as sales tools.
Pearson will hold the copyright, market the materials, and help develop the program’s tests and training.
Montgomery school officials, in turn, will open their classrooms to prospective customers and speak on behalf of the program at Pearson’s request. The company will have final say over content, although Montgomery schools will retain control over it in their classrooms. They will receive royalties of up to 3 percent on the curriculum’s sales, a discount on Pearson materials and an additional $2.25 million advance on royalties regardless of sales.
Montgomery County schools face a 4.4 percent budget cut, despite a 2 percent rise in enrollment. But critics say the district shouldn’t go into business.
Laura Berthiaume, a board of education member for Rockville-Potomac, said, “Converting our employees into salesmen is not where I think we should be.”
The school system had started work on the curriculum before the Pearson deal. The goal is to integrate social studies, art and other subjects into math, reading and writing instruction and align the curriculum to with new common core standards for math and reading.
The deal appears to be a first. Is it a smart way for a respected district to make some money? Or a slippery slope?