Sunday, September 5, 2010

State Board of Ed on Pearson/MCPS: "wasteful of resources, further balkanizes MCPS"

...we question the soundness of the local board's policy decision to approve an Agreement that appears duplicative of State efforts, wasteful of resources, and further balkanizes MCPS from the statewide reform initiative...     
Maryland State Board of Education August 24, 2010 


On August 24, 2010, the Maryland State Board of Education rendered a decision on an Appeal of the recent decision of Montgomery County Public Schools to enter into a contract with Pearson Education, Inc.  The Maryland State Board dismissed the Appeal, but they used their decision as an opportunity to exercise their broad visitatorial authority to make a public statement about the soundness of MCPS' decision to partner with Pearson Education, Inc. 


Here is some of what the Maryland State Board of Education had to say:
...Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has not signed on to the RTTT [Race to the Top] application. But, we never viewed that as a definitive roadblock to collaboration and cooperation on the statewide reform efforts, including statewide curriculum and assessment development.  The Agreement [with Pearson], however, with its requirement of confidentiality and the proprietary nature of the work that MCPS and Pearson will do, could negatively impact the collaborative statewide process. That possibility causes us significant concern....
...The State Board has "the last word on any matter concerning educational policy or the administration of the system of public education."...
...We consider it sound educational policy when all 24 school systems pull in the same direction to reform Maryland's public education system.  In the K-5 curriculum and assessment arena, however, MCPS and Pearson have drawn a cloak of confidentiality over their work. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to come to the table with MSDE [Maryland State Department of Education] and the other systems to discuss creative, innovative ideas for the K-5 Maryland State Curriculum and assessments.  It will be difficult, if not impossible, for MSDE and the other school systems to share ideas with MCPS and Pearson who may, wittingly or not, appropriate them as their own for their K-5 project.
We view the Agreement as essentially separating Pearson and MCPS from the collaborative education reform effort triggered by Maryland's education reform initiative. We believe the Agreement represents an education policy decision that further balkanizes MCPS from the collaborative process of developing statewide curriculum and assessments. 
Moreover, we view the MCPS/Pearson project as essentially duplicative of the State's efforts. MSDE and twenty-two school systems will be spending significant time and money to develop a K-12 curriculum and assessments that will be applicable statewide to all Maryland school systems, including MCPS.  Montgomery County/Pearson will be spending almost $10 million ($5 million through a recent federal grant and $4.5 million under the Agreement) to produce a K-5 curriculum and assessments that will not have statewide applicability, but will apparently be marketed nationwide. It appears to us that this duplicative and proprietary effort represents a waste of valuable resources. As we see it, the better course would be for MCPS/Pearson to find a way to collaborate with MSDE on the K-5 curriculum and assessment development so that scare resources are maximized within the State.
While we question the soundness of the local board's policy decision to approve an Agreement that appears duplicative of State efforts, wasteful of resources, and further balkanzies MCPS from the statewide reform initiative...
We regret that Montgomery County, by agreeing to the confidential, propriety nature of its K-5 project with Pearson, will have to absent itself from the statewide K-5 curriculum and assessment discussion...
Maryland State Board of Education on MCPS - Pearson Contract  


2 comments:

  1. So we have turf-protecting Maryland bureaucrats criticizing empire-building Montgomery bureaucrats; I say we fire them all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Remarkable that the state could issue such an opinion and yet take no direct action.

    ReplyDelete

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