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Exclusive: Former Houghton Mifflin Exec Reveals How Pearson Unfairly Won the LAUSD iPad Deal

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A former Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) executive reveals in a Project Veritas undercover investigation how textbook publishing giant Pearson Education won the $1.3 billion contract to put Common Core-curriculum-loaded iPads into the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), despite the fact that, he alleges, other publishers outpaced Pearson in their bids for the contract.

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In this fourth video of a series by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas – focused on exposing the corporate cronyism behind the Common Core standards reform, Gilbert Garcia, Ph.D. tells the undercover journalist that “the big boys” of the textbook publishing world are Pearson, McGraw-Hill and HMH.

In the video, Garcia further states:

…Every publisher, major publishers has these people wandering around, talking to superintendents, talking to board members, talking to you name it, they’re politicking constantly.

I’m going to share this but it never came from me, the reality was that the evaluations that were done on all of the supposed competitors, Pearson was not the real winner, yet Pearson got the contract. So, that’s as simply as I can put it. So the problem is multi-faceted.

You have a conflict of interest, you have an evaluation that led to the selection of a company that wasn’t even clearly the number one company.

The discussion continues:

Project Veritas (PV): Why is that not public knowledge that Pearson was not at the top of the list?

Gilbert Garcia (GG): Because it was an evaluation that was done behind closed doors.

PV: But this is in the news, why is that part not in the news?

GG: Maybe somebody hasn’t discovered it yet.

In the third video of the series, former Pearson sales executive Kim Koerber tells the Project Veritas journalists about the progressive, anti-American agenda that has been used to fuel the Common Core initiative and the revised Advanced Placement U.S. History framework.

The current video claims to show Keorber agreeing with Garcia’s comments about the LAUSD iPad contract favoring Pearson:

Kim Koerber (KK): …the contract was written for Pearson to win. All the companies knew that. When they…everybody knew that it was written for Pearson.

PV: That’s not exactly legitimate.

KK: No, it’s not.

PV: But they wrote the contract under the premise that Pearson would win it?

KK: Kind of, yeah.

PV: Win it?

KK: Yeah, yeah.

PV: There was basically no bid.

KK: I thought their computers were pretty cool but, uhm, everybody kind of knew that that was written for Pearson.

As Breitbart News reported in 2014, LAUSD superintendent John Deasy resigned his post just six months after his annual salary jumped to $384,184 with $54,184 in buy-outs. Deasy had come to LAUSD from his position as deputy director of education for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the primary source of private funding for the Common Core standards initiative.

The Breitbart News report continued:

Mr. Deasy’s tenure as Superintendent has been incredibly controversial. He championed a $1 billion-dollar expenditure on iPads from Apple Computer and Common Core curriculum from Pearson Publications. But when the program failed miserably and was suspended, Deasy received criticism over his close personal ties to both corporations due to his work at the Gates Foundation pushing Common Core.

As Breitbart News further reported, FBI agents ultimately seized 20 boxes of documents in response to a federal grand jury subpoena regarding possible contract fraud involving the $1.3 billion Common Core iPad technology project.

As Breitbart News noted:

The improprieties at issue in this case were reported back in August when [NPR-member station] KPCC revealed that notes were going back and forth with Apple and software provider Pearson long before the tech contract was ultimately opened for competitive bidding.

The KPCC report found that “Deasy and his deputies communicated with Pearson employees over pricing, teacher training and technical support — specifications that later resembled the district’s request for proposals from vendors. Pearson and Apple emerged as the winning bidders and were awarded the now-abandoned contract in June 2013.”

In late December of 2014, Breitbart News reported that the Pearson Charitable Foundation had announced its closure in the wake of legal problems stemming from its methods of acquiring business contracts. In the prior year, the Pearson Foundation had agreed to a $7.7 million settlement with the state of New York following accusations by the state’s attorney general that the Foundation helped develop Common Core-aligned courses for Pearson, Inc., its corporate parent.

The settlement described the nature of the conflicts:

Pearson and the Foundation have a close working relationship. The Foundation’s staff has consisted of Pearson employees; the Foundation’s board was comprised entirely of Pearson executives until 2012; select Foundation programs have been conducted with the advice and participation of senior Pearson executives; and the Foundation continues to rely heavily upon Pearson Inc. for administrative support…

From 2008 through 2011, the Foundation provided grants to an independent organization of school officials in the U.S. for a jointly sponsored International Summit program, a series of conferences on education that were held abroad and attended by state school officials. The Foundation and Pearson also worked with the organization to plan and organize the International Summits, to identify speakers and presenters and in some cases to recommend school officials from participating countries. Since Pearson offers products and services throughout the U.S. and in many other countries, the school officials who were invited were from jurisdictions where Pearson actively did business and sought to do business. The travel and lodging of state school officials from the U.S. were paid for by the organization of school officials, with the use of Foundation grant funds. The Foundation independently sponsored the travel and lodging of guest speakers, presenters, and summit delegates, including school officials, from foreign countries. In some cases, the non-U.S. delegates who were invited to attend the International Summits were nominated by Pearson personnel.

In a December 2014 Huffington Post article, Alan Singer noted:

In a Washington Post interview, Marc Harris, the former deputy chief of the public corruption and government fraud unit at the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said improprieties in the bidding process would be a federal crime if federal funds were involved or if the actions amounted to fraud against taxpayers by public officials.

The discussion captured on video between Garcia and the Project Veritas journalist continues:

GG: Well, Pearson, by the way, in the same deal was supposedly selling curriculum that hadn’t been created and it was sold as part of the package.

PV: Oh gosh.

GG: But it was never delivered. I mean…

PV: So that’s theft. Or fraud at least.

GG: Crazy thing happen in these major adoptions. I mean, we’re talking about this iPad deal was to be worth a half a billion dollars.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Project Veritas President James O’Keefe said, “Thanks to these undercover videos, we’ve continued to inject faces into the Common Core debate.”

O’Keefe added, “In an extraordinary sequence of events, we released three Common Core corruption videos and three Common Core executives have been fired. But so far, none of this has been mentioned by the mainstream cable news networks. There will be no journalism awards for undercover journalists such as myself, but I have exposed and will continue to expose how the book publishers are all about the money with no regard for the actual needs of our children, how corporate cronyism and underhanded political deals have contributed to Common Core’s massive disruption and the unraveling of America’s educational fabric, and how taxpayer dollars are used with little accountability to enrich the major book publishing companies.”


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