New York State’s attorney general is investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks.
The office of the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, issued subpoenas this week to the foundation and to Pearson Education seeking documents and information related to their activities with state education officials, including at least four education conferences — in London, Helsinki, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro — since 2008, according to people familiar with the investigation.
At issue is whether the activities of the tax-exempt Pearson Foundation, which is prohibited by state law from engaging in undisclosed lobbying, were used to benefit Pearson Education, a for-profit company, according to these people. Pearson sells standardized tests, packaged curriculums and Prentice Hall textbooks.
Specifically, the attorney general’s investigation is looking at whether foundation employees improperly sought to influence state officials or procurement processes to obtain lucrative state contracts, and whether the employees failed to disclose lobbying activities in annual filings with the attorney general’s office. The inquiry follows two columns about the conferences by Michael Winerip in The New York Times this fall.
If there is evidence that the foundation engaged in substantial lobbying and failed to disclose it, it could face fines and lose its tax-exempt status under state and federal laws. No subpoenas were issued to state education officials, the people with knowledge of the matter said.
My question here is, why isn't the attorney general looking into the NYSED too?
Or how about the Regents?
Isn't bribery a two-way street?
If Pearson handed out largesse in return for lucrative state contracts, didn't somebody on the state end take that largesse and in return hand out lucrative contracts?
The Times article suggests that's so:
In New York, Pearson Education most recently won a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state tests, and it maintains a $1 million contract for testing services with the State Education Department, according to state records. The last contract was awarded after David M. Steiner, then the state education commissioner, attended a conference in London in June 2010 that was organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers and underwritten by the Pearson Foundation.
This looks again like another instance of the Merry Pranksters at the Regents and the NYSED skating off without any accountability whatsoever.
We need a list of ALL state officials, including those at the Regents, who might have been on the receiving end of Pearson's largesse.
And then those officials need to explain how it is they signed off on Pearson's state contracts.
Because something smells here.
As Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman for FairTest, said:
“Despite a history of scoring errors, contract manipulation and corporate misbehavior, there’s been almost no public oversight of companies such as Pearson. It’s great that New York’s attorney general has now decided to examine the examiners and begin holding them accountable.”
Yes, it's great somebody's looking into Pearson.
They ought to look into the contracts of Wireless Generation and other politically-connected companies as well.
But the Regents and the NYSED need some scrutiny too.
Steiner needs to answer for his Pearson paid vacations
And how about Merry Merryl Tisch?
Did she go to Helsinki or some other exotic locale for an "education conference" at any point in time on somebody else's dime?
Expand the probe, Scheniderman.
Expand it to the NYSED and the Regents too.