Much Ado About Pearson (Foundation)

Concerns about private sector influence over public policy keep coming up -- not just in education, and not just from the political fringe. There's Jane Meyer's big New Yorker article about corporate giving to nonprofit organizations involved in an effort to influence political elections (and school board elections, too). There's the constant trickle of stories about speaking fees for reporters and corporate support for journalism.  And of course there's Mike Winerip's recent column on the cozy relationship between Pearson, the Pearson Foundation, and the Council of Chief State Officers.

Of course, not all corporate foundations operate the way Winerip describes.  And not everyone is convinced that what the foundation did is such a bad thing.  Officials in Kentucky continue to defend their participation on the junkets.  In which case, why bother going through a foundation and a nonprofit? Others aren't so sure. Whitney Tilson describes the Pearson Foundation situation as "stinking to high heaven."  Matt Yglesias describes the idea that trips don't have any influence as "naive."  Want to know more about Pearson (the company, not the foundation)?  Check out this feature from the Texas Observer published a long piece about Pearson from a month ago.

Any other examples of corporate foundations stretching or breaking the law in order to win contracts or influence policy?  Any exonerating information out there about the trips?  Let us know.


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