Common Core profiteers depicted in 4th Veritas video
By Evan Lips | January 29, 2016, 19:19 EDT
Publishers profiting from the Common Core educational standards once again became the target of undercover video outfit Project Veritas as it released a fourth clip on the subject earlier this week, this time showing a textbook industry executive in California commenting on how success in his business is dictated by politics.
“I’m going to share this but it never came from me,” Gilbert Garcia, the chief executive of Lifelong Learning, tells a Project Veritas journalist, apparently posing as an industry lobbyist, in the organization’s fourth video about Common Core and the publishing industry. “The reality was that the evaluations that were done on all of the supposed competitors, Pearson was not a clear winner, yet Pearson got the contract.”
Garcia referred to a lucrative contract awarded to a textbook unit of London-based publishing giant Pearson. In 2013, Pearson Education landed a $1.3 billion contract to sell iPads and additional educational materials to the Los Angeles Unified School District, a vast system with more than 640,000 students.
Garcia, the subject of the project’s fourth video, lists himself on LinkedIn.com as chief executive of Lifelong Learning Inc., a publishing company based in Rowland Heights, just outside Los Angeles. He says he was previously a sales representative and author for Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for more than two decades.
Garcia could not be reached for comment. He has also served on school boards and associations in Rowland Heights and Los Angeles county.
“You have a conflict of interest, you have an evaluation that led to the selection of a company that wasn’t even clearly the No. 1 company,” Garcia says in the video, referring to Pearson.
Pearson representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest video. But earlier this month, Laura Howe, a company spokeswoman, said the earlier videos misrepresent the publisher’s “values and business practices.”
In 2014, Pearson was awarded another whopper of a contract, to design Common Core-aligned tests, specifically the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). It is unclear how much money the contract will net for Pearson, whose textbook division has offices in the Boston area. A partnership state leader who was crucial to negotiating the contract told Education Week in May 2014 that Pearson’s earnings from it will hinge on how many states adopt the testing method.
In an extraordinary series of events, three CC officials have been fired after videos, no mention on CNN, msnbc, fox pic.twitter.com/5JLK687IWi
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) Jan. 27, 2016
“The big boys are Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton,” Garcia says at one point in the latest video, referring to the top textbook publishers.
Houghton is aware of the latest video but “has nothing to add beyond our last statement,” said Bianca Olson, a Houghton spokeswoman, on Friday. On Jan. 14, the publisher said it “will not tolerate behavior and conduct that contradicts our values and commitment to learning. As stated previously, the comments captured in these videos do not reflect the views of HMH and the commitment of our over 4,000 employees who dedicated their lives to serving teachers and students every day.”
Project Veritas’ third video featured a former Pearson Education manager talking about how publishers have experienced blowback from states like Texas over things like an American history curriculum under Common Core that minimizes the importance of the Constitution and the role of the nation’s founding fathers.
In that video, former Pearson marketer Kim Koerber says: “Dead white guys did not create this country,” before launching into an anti-conservative diatribe.
Koerber at the time the video was filmed was working for the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit educational organization based in Washington. According to a cease-and-desist letter her attorney issued to the conservative news outlet Breitbart.com, the video cost Koerber her job.
As for Project Veritas, O’Keefe has said that more videos will be forthcoming.
“Pretend to be a lobbyist and you can have access to anyone,” O’Keefe has said on Twitter.com, referring to how his organization was able to schedule meetings with publishing executives.