June 10, 2010

Weast makes curriculum marketing deal

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Has a local county school system come up with a brilliant marketing strategy in order to bridge a budget gap or is your child's education for sale? Montgomery County's Board of Education has approved a contract that has the school system teaming up with Pearson Higher Education, a leading publisher of education materials.

Montgomery County will have some of Pearson's experts help district writers revamp the elementary education curriculum. In return, Pearson will market the curriculum with the Montgomery County Public Schools' name attached. In return for the use of its name, MCPS gets 2.5 percent of the material sales.

Brian Edwards, Chief of Staff with MCPS says the arrangement is the first of its kind. Edwards stopped short of saying it was the selling of education, saying the deal is a form of marketing.

"I think all school systems have a brand," Edwards says. "I think if you say 'Montgomery County Schools' anywhere in the country, we're known for high quality."

Edwards flatly denied that taxpayer money is being used to help Pearson make a buck.

"Pearson's going to be investing to provide additional positions for Montgomery County Public Schools," he says.

Edwards says consideration was given to the program due to the budget problems facing the county.

"Every school system's budget is extremely squeezed right now," he says. "We're facing cuts, we're facing reductions in force. We all have to look and think differently about what we have to do to help our kids achieve."

If the arrangement works, look for more of the same to pop up across the state. Several Maryland counties face a very tough fiscal year in 2012, with the Maryland General Assembly looking to have counties help pick up teacher pensions, which are currently a state expense. SOURCE: WTOP

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