Project Veritas

Common Core Insider Reveals Info About LA Bid Rigging Scandal

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The fourth video of this Project Veritas series on Common Core shows a former executive for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the country’s second leading textbook publishing company, alleging that the textbook industry is more about politics and money than education. Again, Project Veritas undercover journalists used hidden video cameras to capture what text book executives would never say in public.

In James O’Keefe’s video, Gilbert Garcia, a former executive who worked for Houghton Mifflin for 31 years, claims that the textbook industry is not based on merit and that politics often impact contractual procedures. “I’m going to share this, but it never came from me, the reality was that the evaluations that were done on all the supposed competitors, Pearson was not the real winner, yet Pearson got the contract,” said Garcia.

The contract Garcia is referring to is a 1.3 billion dollar deal to put Apple iPads loaded with curriculum into the Los Angeles public school system, a deal that was made in 2013. All of the top textbook publishers wanted to bid for that contract, but according to Garcia, the bidding was rigged, and Pearson, the country’s largest textbook publisher, received the contract.

“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,” said Garcia.

When an undercover Project Veritas journalist asked Garcia why it was not known to the public that Pearson was not the number one publisher and why the news had not yet reported on the issue, Garcia said, “because it was an evaluation that was done behind closed doors…Maybe somebody hasn’t discovered it yet.”

This is not the first time Project Veritas undercover journalists found a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt executive revealing that the publishing industry prioritizes profits and politics before education.  “It’s never about the kids,” is how Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Strategic Account Manager Amelia Petties reveals how the textbook industry prioritizes profits over students, echoing the comments of her colleague Dianne Barrow who was featured in the first Project Veritas Common Core video of this series. Barrow’s employment with Houghton-Mifflin was terminated at the time of the release of that video.

In the first video, Dianne Barrow, the West Coast Accounts Manager for Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt was caught on camera saying, “You don’t think that the educational publishing companies are in it for education do you? No. They’re in it for the money. The fact that they have to align the educational standards is what they have to do to sell the books.” She also added, “I hate kids.”

Houghton-Mifflin CEO Linda Zelcher told the Daily Mail that she was “appalled by these comments.” Zelcher added, “These statements in no way reflect the views of HMH and the commitment of our over 4,000 employees who dedicate their lives to serving teachers and students every day.”

However, the second video released by Project Veritas showed that other Houghton-Mifflin executives actually do share similar views to Barrow regarding Common Core and children.

Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt released the following statement after two of their executives were caught on camera, “HMH will not tolerate behavior and conduct that contradicts our values and commitments to learning… The individuals who made these statements are no longer with the company.”

When the first video was released and Diane Barrow mentioned that she was a former employee of Pearson, the nation’s largest publishing company, they released this statement: “The comments in this video in no way represent Pearson’s values or business practices. They are offensive to our 40,000 employees, many of whom are parents, former teachers, or students themselves, and are dedicated to working each and every day to help people make more of their lives through learning.”

However, when Project Veritas journalists spoke to Kim Koerber, a former Pearson executive who worked with the company for more than 20 years, she agreed that the LA bidding contract was rigged in Pearson’s favor.

“The contract was written for Pearson to win… All the companies knew that… Everybody knew that it was written for Pearson,” said Koerber.

“Thanks to these undercover videos, we’ve continued to inject faces into the Common Core debate,” said Project Veritas President James O’Keefe. “In an extraordinary sequence of events, Project Veritas released three Common Core corruption videos and three Common Core executives have been fired. But so far, none of this has been mentioned on the Cable networks. There will be no journalism awards, but we 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.”

About Project Veritas

Project Veritas is a non-profit investigative news organization conducting undercover reporting. Project Veritas investigates and exposes corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions to achieve a more ethical and transparent society. Project Veritas is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.