Council of Great City Schools

Special education overhaul

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Student & School Performance

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New York

Schools chiefs give publishers ultimatum about new standards

Greg Worrell (right), an executive at Scholastic, introduces himself to Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard after the event. Calling for a "buyers' cartel" against the publishing industry, more than 30 large urban school districts have formed an agreement to purchase only instructional material that meets new learning standards' high bar of rigor. "I think through our collective efforts we want to make sure that the publishing industry understands the power of all of us working together," New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said today. Walcott was among more than two dozen superintendents and chief academic officers who convened at the New York City Public Library to announce the pact. The leaders said they were affirming their commitment to ensuring the ambitious Common Core standards aren't watered down by publishers seeking easy profits. The event was organized by the city Department of Education; the Council of Great City Schools; and Student Achievement Partners, the nonprofit that developed the Common Core. New York City alone spends $100 million a year on materials produced by publishers, Walcott said today. And together, the council's 67 member districts spend more $2 billion annually on instructional materials, including textbooks, supplemental reading text, and online resources. The education publishing industry is dominated by multinational conglomerates including Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Scholastic, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In a 40-minute presentation today, Jason Zimba and Susan Pimentel, founders of Student Achievement Partners, indicted the industry for creating low-quality materials that they said contributed to lagging student achievement. "Part of the purpose of this event is to say loudly and clearly that the major cities in this country are really quite serious about this and we're going to pull together and signal to you what it is that we need and let the marketplace respond,"said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools.