Koch Went On Pearson Junket

The New York Times' columnist Mike Winerip is reporting that ISBE chief Chris Koch, among several other state school chiefs, has participated in Pearson-sponsored junkets to places like Singapore, Helsinki, etc.  Koch's trip was approved by an ethics officer, according to ISBE, and at least some of the trips were arranged by the Pearson Foundation rather than the corporation.  Still.  Do the trips provide value to the state or simply create credibility problems for the state education agency when it comes time for the state to decide what it's going to buy?

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  • I am no one to judge whether or not Dr. Koch's paid trips were ethical or not. The article states " A spokesman for the Illinois commissioner (s/b superintendent) said he had received prior approval for the trips from a state ethics officer, as required by state law. " According to the State of Illinois Executive Ethics Commission website (http://www2.illinois.gov/eec/Pages/EthicsOfficers.aspx) the ethics officer for the ISBE is Darren Reisberg the General Counsel for ISBE. The ISBE General Counsel is appointed by the Board itself not the Superintendent (105 ILCS 5/34 11) so it is not a conflict of interest for Mr. Reisberg to make a determination as to whether or not Dr. Koch's trips paid for by the Pearson Foundation constitute an exemption to (5 ILCS 430/10) State Officials and Employees Ethics Act that bans officials from accepting gifts. The specific exemption is 5 ILCS 430/10 15 (4) that allows officials to accept gifts related to educational missions.

    I know both Dr. Koch and Mr. Reisberg. I wish Dr. Koch had made a decision similar to Michael P. Flanagan of Michigan who decided according to the article that these trips paid for by Pearson could be perceived as being unethical, regardless of the more technical issues. I do think that the Officials and Employees Ethics Act in Illinois should be amended to remove the exemption for paid educational missions.

    Rod Estvan

  • All the top administrators of state dept of ed and school ceo's and superintendents are wined and dined to get sales. Unethical no matter how you slice it!

  • Saw this:
    http://substancenews.net/articles.php?page=2617&section=Article /
    Pearson in Brazil, Susan Ohanian - September 20, 2011

    [Editor's Note: We've already apologized to Susan Ohanian for not posting the following article of hers here before we posted the information reported on the Pearson junkets from The New York Times. We hope that other investigators and reporters will be tracking down each of these, as the test explosions forced on hapless states by the Obama administration pushed more and more crony capitalism out there. That California corporation that just went bust is just the tip of the iceberg.]

    Pearson Provides Junket for Selected Chief State School Officers

    by Susan Ohanian

    So the Pearson Foundation teams up with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to send a bunch of Chief State School Officers off to a foreign country to discuss "best practices" in education. They call it the Pearson Foundation/CCSSO International Conference on Education. In 2008, the conference was in Singapore; in 2009, Helsinki; in 2010, London. In September 2011, a dozen or so Chief State School Officers get an all-expenses paid junket to Brazil, as part of Pearson's "continuing commitment to student and experience international best practices." (more at link)

  • CPS uses third rate Pearson services versus the best they have to offer. CPS uses web apps that are in stasis. I guess our teachers only deserve third rate web applications.

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