Pearson Is Everywhere: Pearson and Gates Edition

Pearson: Always Earning

Pearson: Always Earning

Welcome back to another edition of Pearson Is Everywhere!

Last time we looked at Pearson’s staggeringly large profits, including profits made from the testing of our children.

Today, we look at related topics and the ties between the Gates Foundation and Pearson. In particular, the formation of the Digital Promise League.

Before moving forward to the main event, a few points need mentioning.

1 – It is worth noting Pearson has a board member who previously worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2 – It appears the fox is guarding the hen-house, as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) has brought Pearson in to determine the ‘reliability of the tests‘.

Standards drive the tests. The tests drive the curriculum, materials and… digital apps.

Remember, in 2009 Bill Gates saw the enormous profit to be made off of our kids and all of it centered around the flawed and experimental Common Core.

“When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun.”
– Bill Gates, 2009 Natl. Conference Of State Legislatures


We’ll start today’s installment of Pearson Is Everywhere with a flashback to a press release from 2011:

Pearson Foundation Partners with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Create Digital Learning Programs

NEW YORK–The Pearson Foundation today announced a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support America’s teachers by creating a full series of digital instructional resources. Online courses in math and reading/English language arts will offer a coherent and systemic approach to teaching the new Common Core State Standards. Common Core Standards were developed by the National Governors Association, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-one states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.

Unique and original, this project is dedicated to creating a complete, foundational system of instruction built around the Common Core Standards. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide funding and research to support this partnership.

Over the next three years, the Pearson Foundation will develop 24 courses covering math for grades K-10 and reading/English language arts for grades K-12. The courses will enable teachers and students to access the latest and most effective digital learning technologies as they prepare to meet the internationally benchmarked college readiness goals of the Common Core Standards.

Flash forward to 2014 and we find the Gates Foundation was very busy being involved in creating online apps and instructional materials for ‘personalized learning‘.

Also in 2014, Congress authorized the launch of the “Digital Promise League“.  Digital Promise was formed through Congress’s 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The U.S. Department of Education, Gates and Carnegie gave Digital Promise it’s seed money.   The 2008 presentation given by Digital Promise asked for $5 million from the Omnibus bill and an additional $50 million to be granted in 2010.

Digital Promise League’s Corporate partners and Foundation partners are a who’s who of Common Core supporters, including Amplify, Microsoft and Pearson.  As I’ve said before, Digital Promise League represents the ultimate in Public-Private Partnership organizations.

North Carolina’s largest school district, Wake County, jumped in to the Digital Promise League’s “League of Innovative Schools” with both feet.

Follow The Digital Promise Grant Money

The following are ‘foundation partners’ of Digital Promise:

Gates, Carnegie, Grable, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Morgridge Family Foundation. The Verizon Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Many of the grants below reference a ‘micro-credentialing system‘.  Many of these ‘micro-credentials’ go hand-in-hand with Common Core.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grants:

Digital Promise League has received 5 grants totaling $3,106,324.00. You won’t find the listing for Digital Promise in the grants list under that name, but instead under “National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies“.

  1. 2014 – “to identify and share with the public a set of practices that U.S. public school districts can use to pilot learning technology products as part of the procurement process” –  $498,156
  2. 2013 – “to support school districts’ efforts to redesign procurement processes” – $499,547
  3. 2013 – “o provide project management support for the Teacher Wallets pilot program” – $10,500
  4. 2012 – “to support districts in sharing knowledge and building demand for digital content and tools” – $2,048,121
  5. 2012 – “to initiate a strategic planning process in order to develop an operating plan for the organization and its work with the League of Innovation Schools” – $50,000

Carnegie Foundation grants:

  1. 2014 – “Strengthen Human Capital” – $1,000,000
  2. 2014 – “New Designs For Education Systems” – $350,000
  3. 2012 – “New Designs For Education Systems” – $350,000

Grable Foundation grants:

  1. 2014 – “Community Vitality” – $100,000 (Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, NC focus)
  2. 2014 – “Community Vitality” – $20,000

MacArthur Foundation grants:

  1. 2014 – “In support of the development of digital badges for educators” – $180,000
  2. 2013 – “Digital badges for educators as part of Connected Educator Month” – $150,00

Joyce Foundation grants:

  1. Their site is like a maze and there isn’t a single grant database to be searched. One has to go year by year through annual reports. I did this for 2009-2013 and found no grants for Digital Promise. However, there was a press release detailing $1.4 million to be spread over 3 grants to three groups in which Digital Promise was one of the three. See: “Joyce Announces College Pipeline Commitment at The White House
  2. Joyce Foundation also supports the Clinton Global Initiative and spend hundreds of thousands each year on anti-gun advocacy groups.

Laura and John Arnold Foundation grants:

  1. 2013-14 – “To support the creation of a tool that will provide information on blended learning and other educational technologies.” – $130,000

Michael and Susan Dell Foundation grants:

  1. 2014 – “To support Digital Promise build competency-based micro-credentials and digital badges for professional educators.” – $300,000

The Morgridge Family Foundation does not have annual reports or any grant information on their site.

The Verizon Foundation site did not offer a searchable grant database, however the following are items related to Digital Promise:

  1. Tablet Deployment Monitoring – More than 4,500 students and 350 educators will be given either an iPad or Samsung Galaxy tablet, with the ability to use them at home, under the two-year project organized by Digital Promise and the Verizon Foundation.
  2. Verizon Expands Innovative Learning Schools Program To Reach Out 8 More Schools
  3. Verizon Support of ConnectED – A program in conjunction with Digital Promise to supply $20,000 grants to schools for technology.

William and Flora Hewlitt Foundation Grants:

  1. 2014 – “For the design, build, and distribution of a system for teacher credentialing via badging” – $400,000
  2. 2013 – “For the design, build, and distribution of a system for teacher credentialing via badging” – $400,000
  3. 2011 – “General operating support” – $25,000



About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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