Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No Capitalist Left Behind: NCLB’s 4 Biggest Winners

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
4 LA Kids recently posted an article profiling the 4 biggest beneficiaries of NCLB largesse. Not surprisingly, they are big test/textbook publishers. Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, and Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company) write 96% of the state exams used under NCLB, while NCS Pearson is the main scorer of the tests.

Even before NCLB, there was already a large scale move toward greater testing and accountability. In 1955, test sales were only $7 million, adjusted to 1998 dollars. By 1997, when NCLB was just being signed into law, test sales had increased nearly 3,000% to $263 million. Today, thanks to the pressure of NCLB, the testing market ranges from $400 to $700 million, according to the 4 LA Kids blog.

Harcourt Education Measurement (HEM) currently controls 40% of the test-design market. Harcourt Education is owned by London-based publisher and arms dealer Reed Elsevier, a company that was tight with George W. Bush. Harcourt also operates Holt, Rinehart and Winston, one of the largest K-12 educational textbook publishers in the nation. HEM published the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-9), taken by more than 15 million students nationwide each year.

CTB McGraw-Hill, also tight with the Bush family, controls 40% of the test-design market. McGraw-Hill, the parent company, is based in New York and also owns Standard & Poor's, Business Week magazine, and four TV stations. CTB McGraw-Hill produces tests for 19 states and earn $4.2 billion in sales in 2000. Barnett Alexander “Sandy” Kress,  a lobbyist for McGraw-Hill, was also a key architect of NCLB. Harold McGraw, Jr., of McGraw-Hill, sat on the board of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, while his son, Harold McGraw III, was a member of the George W. Bush transition team. Kress also represented Ignite! Learning, a company headed by Neil Bush, and K12 Inc., owned by Bill Bennett, Reagan’s Education Secretary. 

Riverside Publishing, owned by Houghton Mifflin (now under the control of the French company Vivendi Universal), controls 20% of the test-design market. They produce the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), which is taken by 4-5 million students each year. Vivendi also owns Universal Pictures and Motown Records.

NCS Pearson is the leading scorer of standardized tests, scoring almost 40 million per year in the U.S. Pearson reported $629.5 million in sales in 2000, with test scoring accounting for nearly one-third of that.

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