“Fire Chris Koch”: ISBE chief hid real costs of testing company junkets

The Pearson junket scandal broke — i.e. was actually reported – a few months ago in New York, and the NY state attorney general is now investigating local education officials, but Chicago media seems uninterested in the fact that Illinois State Superintendent Chris Koch also took advantage of free trips around the world courtesy of the Pearson testing company, without fully reporting their value.

The New York Times reported last September that “Illinois — whose superintendent, Christopher A. Koch, went to Helsinki in 2009 and to Rio de Janeiro — is currently paying Pearson $138 million to develop and administer its tests.” Koch disclosed only the cost of the airfare on state forms.

It’s left to a former school superintendent from little Oswego, IL, to call on Governor Quinn to fire Koch, in a letter posted today on Fred Klonsky’s blog.

Supt. Roger Lign. Sanders writes

How shameful it is for Illinois to be in the national spotlight, AGAIN, among the infamous allegations of crooked politicians and officials who are supposed to be protecting the public trust. To suggest that you can maintain objectivity in contract decision making in those types of arrangements is ludicrous….

(O)ur compulsion to test, test, and test our students and evaluate teachers based upon standardized test results has gone so far beyond reasonable, and is so pedagogically unsound, that it is crystal clear to me that policy making at the highest level has more to do with business economics and political ideology that teaching and learning.
Dr. Koch’s willingness to accept such travel perks certainly reinforces many educators’ beliefs that our educational policies are less about what is in the best interest of students and more about what is in the best interest of business.

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Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.
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