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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Education

McGraw-Hill

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McGraw-Hill has 290 offices in 38 countries. Revenue from McGraw-Hill Education, which McGraw-Hill claims on its website drives education markets, was over $2.6 billion in 2008.

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McGraw-Hill Education logoIts subsidiaries publish textbooks, instructional materials, software and school programs tailored to standardised curriculum and standardised tests. They also evaluate schools, largely on the basis of standardised test results, provide assessment reports for individual schools and teachers, and offer various tools to help teachers and students improve standardised test results.

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McGraw-Hill dominates the test market and in 2005 its company CTB had contracts in 23 states (followed by Harcourt Assessment with contracts in 18 states, Pearson with contracts in 13 and Riverside with contracts in 12).

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It has been influential in US politics through the close connections between the Bush family and the McGraw family that go back three generations. It enjoys a “cozy relationship” with the Bush Administration and its board members and CEO are active in key business coalitions (see diagram).

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Companies such as McGraw-Hill lobby for standardised testing; for their own standardised tests to be used; and for curriculum standards that fit with the textbooks they produce.

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For example, McGraw Hill lobbyists used the statewide results on their own California Achievement tests to convince the state legislature that California schools needed the McGraw Hill Open Court and Reading Mastery program to improve students reading performance. According to Richard Beach, professor of literacy studies at University of Minnesota, ‘The testing arm of the company serves the textbook arm’ and promotes a standardized educational package that has very little to do with real learning.

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McGraw-Hill claims that the standardised tests they set are not driven by the content of their textbooks or instructional programs but by state standards. However, McGraw-Hill is also able to influence state standards. In Texas, McGraw-Hill ‘experts’ advised governor George W. Bush on a suitable reading curriculum that was then adopted in Texas schools. “Not surprisingly, McGraw Hill products matched the specifications and gained a dominant share in the Texas textbook market.”

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