District sells curriculum to Pearson

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?

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  1. Very slippery slope. The bottom- public schools run completely by companies selling specific name brand products?

  2. Anne Clark says:

    Montgomery County is one of the richest in the U.S.

    What desperate measures will districts like Newark and Camden here in NJ have to resort to if this is the new paradigm?

    Lets pull ALL Title 1 funding from these schools. The federal government provides funding,along with the state. They should insist that they either get their share of the profits, or that they provide no further funding.

    Reminds me of Grant Wiggins’ deal with Mississippi. He got post-Katrina reconstruction funds from the US Govt. to develop curricular materials, retained the copyright, and now sells those materials to other states/districts/schools.

  3. integrate social studies, art and other subjects into math, reading and writing instruction,

    I pity the fools who are trying to learn math while decorating tissue paper boxes with bar charts and percentages relating to racial issues in the 60’s.

  4. Many people are understandably wary of private companies (such as Pearson) becoming more involved in public education. Still, I would rather that Pearson learn from a highly rated school system with a good curriculum instead of creating a curriculum from scratch.

  5. As someone who works in Montgomery County, MD public schools and has children in them as well I seriously fail to see why anyone would want to buy their curriculum. It is BORING to say the least. We are moving to Fairfax VA to get away from MD public schools.

  6. “The deal appears to be a first. Is it a smart way for a respected district to make some money? Or a slippery slope?”

    There are several slopes. the biggest slope we have today is run by the government. We are on the slippery slope sliding every increasingly into the abyss of governmental control, regulation, and propoganda. Perhaps a few other slopes will keep things interesting. Private schools balance fundraising with education as they slide their way along doing a pretty good job of it statistically; the business slope may slide towards business goals and profit distractions, but bottom-line, it’ll be a one-shot deal unless they can prove what they’re selling works and is worth it. Which path leads most directly to increased freedom and the best education for our children?


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