Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are educational materials used to promote products to MCPS children?

We hope not.  But we'd like your help.

As our readers know, Pearson Education Inc, the global educational publisher, now is in charge of the curricular materials in Montgomery County Public Schools.

And our students have new media, Google Chrome account, and lots of other bells and whistles to accompany this new curriculum.

But - and there is always a but - have you noticed something else that comes with these packaged materials?

One MCPS parent recently commented on Facebook about a passage his child had from school concerning purchasing an iPhone and insurance.  Yes, a real life example, but how many elementary kids carry cell phones or purchase their own iPhone?  And insurance?  I don't have that for my iPhone.  My elementary school aged kids would have been confused.

Parents in NY noticed that Pearson exam materials frequently reference commercial products.  From the article:

"Just Do It" has been a familiar Nike slogan for years, but some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York's Common Core standardized English tests.
Brands including Barbie, iPod, Mug Root Beer and Life Savers showed up on the tests more than a million students in grades 3 through 8 took this month, leading to speculation it was some form of product placement advertising.
. . .

The use of brand names was one of several complaints raised by some educators and parents about the statewide tests, aligned to the Common Core standards intended to increase academic rigor. Some contend they are too difficult and don't measure what students are actually learning.
While such general complaints about Common Core tests have arisen elsewhere, advocates said the prevalence of brand names appears to be specific to New York.
Here is our question to the folks in MoCo:  Have you noticed any product placements in your child's educational materials this year?

We truly hope that our kids aren't seeing pitches for products in our educational materials or on media in the classroom, and that the one parent comment we picked up was an anomaly.  We don't think our children should be for sale in MoCo, and trust that the Board of Education feels the same way.

But you can never be too sure.

Parents and caregivers - we know you are paying attention to your child's progress.  So - as you go over homework and help out in assignments with your kids - keep an eye out for placement of specific trademarked goods.

And if you find something, take a screenshot (I usually print/save the page as a PDF), and send to us at

contact @

And, as always, stay tuned.

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