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Pearson PLC is an international media company with its major business units comprising Pearson Education, the Financial Times Group (publisher of the Financial Times) and book publisher Penguin Group. Pearson describes itself as, "the world's leading education company. From pre-school to high school, early learning to professional certification, our curriculum materials, multimedia learning tools and testing programmes help to educate millions of people worldwide - more than any other private enterprise."[1] Pearson was founded in 1844 and is headquartered in London.

Pearson Education was established in 1998 out of the merge of Addison-Wesley Longman and Simon and Schuster's educational businesses. Pearson owns over 100 (and continues to absorb) educational brands which include Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Allyn & Bacon, Addison-Wesley, Silver, Burdette and Ginn, Longman, Benjamin Cummings, Macmillan Publishing USA, Dorling Kindersley, National Computer Systems, AGS publishing, Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International, Wall Street English, school learning systems division of Sistema Educacional Brasileiro (SEB), Connections Education, and EmbanetCompass.[2] Pearson not only produces most products and technologies needed in the educational system but they also fund education reform groups which advocate for policy changes that increase reliance on Pearson developed education technologies and testing programs.[3]

Pearson's 2012 revenue was reported as 5.059 billion pounds.[4]

Pearson Foundation

Pearson PLC provides annual grants to fund Pearson Foundation, which describes itself as an "independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization...collaborating with leading businesses, nonprofits, and education experts to share good practice; foster innovation; and find workable solutions to the educational disadvantages facing young people and adults across the globe."[5] Pearson Foundation is a donor to the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that accepts funding from many for profit corporations that also fund ALEC.[6]

Pearson Foundation Pairs with Gates Foundation

In April 2011, the Pearson Foundation released news of a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where a "Grant from [the] Gates Foundation will help create comprehensive instructional system to prepare America's students to meet Common Core State Standards."[7] With the money and research provided by the Gates Foundation, Pearson will create a series of courses in Math and English designed to teach the Common Core State Standards recently adopted by 41 states, two territories, and the District of Colombia. The Common Core Standards were developed by both the national Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a non-profit group representing education commissioners.[7] [8]

Pearson Foundation's Possible Violation of Federal Tax Code

In Michael Winerip's New York Times article, he reveals the Pearson Company's use of their non-profit Pearson Foundation, to promote business interests veiled as educational trips described as intended to expose U.S. education commissioners to "educators from around the world to get ideas for improving American public schools."[8] Winerip however found evidence of numerous Pearson company executives also attending these international conferences suggesting that the Pearson Foundation's "educational trips" are more-so a vessel to bring together educations commissioners and Pearson executives. Tax law experts argued that such spending is in violation of the federal tax code but commissioners, the Pearson Foundation, and the Council of Chief State School Officers refuted accusations, continue to stress the value of these "educational trips", and ignored requests for information on conference attendees. Winerip reports that Pearson company and Pearson Foundation shared the same Vice President of strategic partnerships at the time and also found 12 Pearson company executives attended the Finland conference and 9 company executives attended a conference in Singapore. In their participation state education commissioners could also be violating state ethics laws, which had been inquired into by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. Commissioners from Illinois, Virginia, and Kentucky, states which pay Pearson from $57 million to $138 million for their standardized testing program, all attended the conferences.[8] Additional evidence of Pearson Company benefiting from the Foundations trips include Kentucky choosing Pearson to run their test program despite a lower bid from competitor CTB/McGraw Hill after the commissioner blogged about attending a Foundation conference in China and receiving preferential choice and reference by Virginia. Michigan state commissioner even admitted that ethical concerns drove him to stop attending the conferences.[8]


From 2010 to May 2013, Pearson Education spent $3,200,000 on lobbying. Pearson Education's lobbyists are Steven Kingsley and David Mullaney. [9]

2012 Pearson Reports Reflect Prioritizing Profits Over Advancement in Education

Financial reports summarizing Pearson's profits and growth that were recently made available online were met with scrutiny upon inspection. In a Huffington Post blog, Alan Singer assessed the foundation's financial summary and outlook, writing, "Something consistently missing in a report that emphasizes growth and profit is students and whether Pearson's high tech snake oil actually promotes student learning." Singer also notes that "Pearson has been able to extract these profitable deals through a systematic campaign of buying good will from state and local officials and educational institutions."[10]

Pearson Contracts

Pearson holds a five year contract worth nearly $500 million to write and administer exams in Texas. [3]

Board of Directors

Accessed June 2013: [11]

Contact Details

Pearson UK
80 Strand
London, WC2R 0RL
Tel: +44 207 010 2000

Pearson US
Pearson Inc.
1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
Tel. +1 212 641 2400

Resources and Articles

Related Sourcewatch

Related External Articles


  1. Pearson PLC, Company Overview, company website, accessed June 3, 2013.
  2. Pearson PLC, Our History, company website, accessed June 4, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 , Education Inc. - How private companies are profiting from Texas public schools., The Texas Observer, September 6, 2011.
  4. Pearson PLC, 2012 Annual Report, company document, accessed June 3, 2013.
  5. Pearson Foundation,About the Pearson Foundation, foundation website, accessed June 4th, 2013.
  6. Tom Aswell, Nonprofit group releases emails which depict connection between ALEC, education reform and corporate investors, Louisiana Voice, January 30, 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pearson Foundation,Our News, foundation website, accessed June 4, 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Michael Winerip, Free Trips Raise Issues for Officials in Education, The New York Times, October 9th, 2011.
  9. Center for Responsive Politics, Pearson Education Influence & Lobbying, OpenSecrets lobbying database, accessed June 4, 2013.
  10. Alan Singer, "Pearson Rakes in the Profit (Update),"Huffington Post", March 19, 2013.
  11. Pearson PLC, Board of directors, company website, accessed June 4, 2013.
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