The Pearson Foundation that sponsors Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® campaign, is an American charity founded by Pearson, an Anglo-American publishing conglomerate. Pearson, PLC consists of Pearson Education, the Penguin Publishing Group, and the Financial Times Group, which publishes the neoliberal Financial Times newspaper. It is the largest publisher of books in the world and the largest manufacturer of educational products in the world.
Pearson Education sells educational goods and services to students and schools. The company generates about 60% of sales in North America, and operates in over seventy countries. They publish textbooks under a range of imprints, including Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Addison-Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, and Longman.
They provide electronic learning programs as well as test development, processing and scoring services to schools, corporations, and professional bodies. Pearson Early Learning, Pearson Digital Learning, and Family Education Network sell “integrated and scientifically based learning and assessment tools.” Pearson Scott Foresman is the imprint for elementary school textbooks, while Pearson Prentice Hall is the imprint for secondary school textbooks.
Pearson Digital Learning provides “industry-leading, digital instructional solutions for pre K-12…, such as enVisionMATH and Miller-Levine Biology.” Pearson School Systems offers “student information, assessment, reporting and business solutions.” The company states almost half of American “schools use at least one of our student curriculum, instructional management and financial software packages.”
According to Pearson, “About three million US college students are currently pursuing their studies online using Pearson Higher Education’s products.” The company has a number of imprints for college textbooks, including Pearson Prentice Hall.
Pearson Addison Wesley and Pearson Benjamin Cummings are the imprints for textbooks in the subjects of “computing, economics, finance, mathematics, science, and statistics.” Pearson Longman is the imprint for textbooks in the subjects of “English, history, philosophy, political science, and religion.”
Pearson Allyn & Bacon is the imprint for textbooks in the subjects of “social sciences, humanities, and education disciplines.” Pearson Learning Solutions can help educators “build a textbook from our library of copyrighted content, reorganize existing texts; or all of the above.”
According to the company, Pearson Educational Measurement is “the largest provider of educational assessment services and solutions in the US…, developing, scoring and processing tens of millions of student tests every year. We mark school examinations for the US federal government, 20 American states, and score more than 100 million multiple-choice tests and 30 million essays every year. Pearson also scores the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the only federal nationwide test), and college entrance exams. Our formative assessment products measure progress and forecast student growth towards US state performance standards.”
Considering that Pearson is known today primarily as a publishing conglomerate, it makes sense that the oldest part of the company was a publishing house, but Pearson as such was founded as a construction firm. In 1724,Thomas Longman (1699-1755) founded the Longman publishing house in London.
In 1844,Samuel Pearson foundedS. Pearson & Son as a small building firm in Yorkshire. In 1880, control of the firm passed to his grandson, Weetman Pearson (1856-1927), one of the most important builders in modern history.
In 1848, George Palmer Putman (1814-1872) dissolved his partnership with John Wiley (1808-1891) in New York City and founded G. Putnam Broadway, the forerunner to Putnam. [Wiley later founded John Wiley & Sons, Inc., also known as Wiley, which is a textbook publisher in direct competition with Pearson Education.] The firm went on to publish the works of Washington Irving (1783-1859), Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).
In 1843,James Wilson, a hat maker from the small Scottish town of Hawick, began to publish The Economist to campaign against the Corn Laws. In the 1884,Harry Marks began to publish a precursor to the modern Financial Times, The Financial and Mining News in London. Four years later, in 1888, a competing newspaper, the Financial Times, was launched as the friend of the “Honest Financier and the Respectable Broker.” The two newspapers were rivals for fifty-eight years until they merged in 1946 to form the modern Financial Times.
The Financial Times was first printed on pink paper in 1893. This was in part a bid to differentiate it from other morning newspapers and in part an effort to save money as tinted paper was cheaper. That same year, the Financial Times became the first London morning newspaper to be composed on a linotype typesetting machine, which saved money and production time.
In 1890,Weetman Pearson moved the business S. Pearson & Sons, Ltd. from Yorkshire to London. The docks he built at Milford Haven and Southampton in England led him to construct the Halifax docks in Nova Scotia, Canada and the Manhattan Tunnel project. His civil engineering firm built railroads in Spain, Colombia, China and Mexico; harbors in Dover, England; Vera Cruz, Mexico; and Valparaiso, Chile. Pearson also built the Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile in Sudan (then part of the Kingdom of Egypt), as well as reservoirs, tunnels, factories, and the first hydroelectric plants in Mexico and Chile. To extract oil from an oil fields his surveyors discovered while his company built the Ferrocarril Transistmico,a transcontinental railroad across Mexico, at the behest of military dictator Porfirio Diaz, in 1909 he founded the Mexican Eagle Oil Company.
Pearson served as a Member of Parliament (MP), representing Colchester, after he won an election in 1895, until he was raised to the peerage in 1910. He was a member of the Liberal Party.
Pearson was created a baronet in 1894, a baron in 1910, and a viscount in 1917.His titles were 1st Baronetof Paddockhurst and Airlie Gardens; 1st Baron Cowdray, of Midhurst in the County of Sussex;and 1st Viscount Cowdray, of Cowdray in the County of Sussex. As a result, he was referred to as Sir Wheatman Pearson between 1994 and 1910 and as The Lord Cowdray or Lord Cowdray between 1910 and his death in 1927.
In 1889, Erastus Howard Scott(died 1928) and C. J. Albert of the Albert Teachers Agency founded Albert & Scott in Chicago. The first book they published was Bellum Helveticum, a Latin textbook for high school students.
In 1894, salesman Hugh A. Foresman (born 1867) purchased the interest of Albert and joined E. H. Scott. The following year, the firm purchased the publishing business, rights, and stock of George Sherwood & Company, which also published textbooks and moved to larger quarters at 307 South Wabash Avenue. In 1896, W. Coates Foresman joined the business, and the corporate name changed to Scott, Foresman & Company. That same year, the company purchased S. C. Griggs &Company, which published Robert’s Rules of Order. S.C. Griggs had earlier sold his bookstore business, which evolved into a book wholesale and retail business called Jansen, McClurg & Company, to A. C. McClurg, a publisher and retailer of books, to the famous bookstore chain Kroch’s & Brentano’s.
In 1909, Scott Foresman entered the elementary school market with the Elson Grammar School Readers. Two years later, Scott Foresman is the first publisher to use four-color printing, which revolutionized textbook illustrations.
In 1913, Professor Charles W. Gerstenberg and student Richard P. Ettinger founded the publishing house Prentice-Hall. They used the maiden names of their mothers to name their firm. Two years later, Prentice Hall published the first loose-leaf book on tax law to respond to needs up-to-date information on rapidly changing tax laws.
In 1921, Pearson entered the communications media industry, with the acquisition of a group of British provincial newspapers that formed the foundation of Westminster Press.
The New York Stock Exchange founded the New York Institute of Finance. Its first courses were held on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the evenings. Charles Gay, President of the NYSE in 1921, explained, “young men and women, while working, could get an education in finance and related subjects.” In January of 2001, this business was re-branded FT Knowledge Financial Learning. It helps train more than 20,000 professionals every year.
In 1930,Scott, Foresman & Company published the first Dick & Jane stories in the Elson-Gray Basic Readers.The Dick & Jane series was shaped by the educational theories of Professor William S. Gray (1885-1960) of the University of Chicago. His co-creator was Zena Sharp (1889-1981), a former elementary school teacher Professor Gray hired to work at Scott, Foresman & Company in 1924. She was a textbook editor for the company for about thirty years. Teachers used Dick & Jane basal readers, published until 1971, to teach generations of Americans to read.
In the summer of 1935,Allen Lane published the first Penguins paperbacks. They were a mix of biographies, mysteries, and literary novels. All the Penguin paperback titles were by contemporary writers, including Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), Eric Linklater (1899-1974), and Agatha Christie (1890-1976).
Pearson states, “They cost just sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes. Within twelve months, Penguin sells a staggering 3 million paperbacks.”
In 1935,Longman published the first English Language Teaching (ELT) dictionary. During the interwar years,Penguin had bestsellers in its Penguin Specials series with Searchlight on Spain and What Hitler Wants. One of the best-selling titles of war years is Aircraft Recognition. Civilians and servicemen alike used it to identify enemy airplanes. In 1946, Penguin launched Penguin Classics. Its first title was E.V. Rieu’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey.
In 1942,Addison-Wesley began to establish its reputation as a noteworthy publisher of science and math books with the debut of the best-selling Mechanics. Eight years later, in 1950, Addison-Wesley published its first computer programming book, Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer.
In 1945, postwar economics prompt rivals the Financial Times and the Financial News to merge into what is today’s modern Financial Times. [England made great gains recently (before the economic contraction that started at the end of 2007), but it never really recovered financially from World War II.] The pink paper was kept.
Five years later, in 1950, Prentice Hall formed its first educational book division. In 1956, the Addison-Wesley School Division formed, and, within two years, the Science Education Series (later Science and Mathematics) was published for the secondary, college preparatory school market.
In 1957,Pearson purchased the Financial Times as “a sound, conservative investment.” As the owners of the Lazards merchant bank, the owners and administrators of Pearson were aware that it would be criticized if it appeared to influence the paper’s editorial policies. From the start, Pearson assured readers it protected the editorial independence of the Financial Times.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, two publishing houses that would later be enfolded into Pearson’s Penguin Publishing Group came under fire for promoting permissive culture. G.P. Putnam’s Sons published Norman Mailer’s Deer Park in 1955 and the first American edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita in 1958. Banned by public libraries in some American cities – having already been banned by the French Interior Minister in 1956 – Lolita nevertheless became a best-seller in the U.S. The publication of Deer Park and Lolita were landmark victories against the threat of censorship.
On the other side of the Atlantic,Penguin published the first unabridged version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and was charged under the Obscene Publications Act in 1960. The company was acquitted, which was a turning point in censorship laws in the U.K. Looking backward at the publication of those books and all that followed the precedent they set, is Western society really better off for those court decisions?
In 1968, Pearson acquired Longman and merged it into the company’s publishing division along with Westminster Press and the Financial Times. The next year, Pearson goes public on the London Stock Exchange. At the time, the company’s interests ranged from banking to publishing.
In 1970,Pearson acquired and restructured Penguin. Five years later, Pearson arranged for the New York-based Viking Press to merge with Penguin Books. Viking authors included John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow, and Arthur Miller. In the 1982, G.P. Putnam’s Sons acquired Grosset & Dunlap, publishers of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and The Bobbsey Twins. In 1983, Penguin Books acquired Frederick Warne & Company, best known for publishing Beatrix Potter’s children’s books featuring Peter Rabbit.
In 1985, TIME, Inc. purchased Scott, Foresman & Company.Four years later, in 1989,Harper & Row acquired Scott, Foresman, which by then included Little, Brown & Company. William Collins Publishing and Harper & Row merged. In 1996,Scott, Foresman –Addison WesleySchool Publishing Group formed.
In 1985,the Financial Times began printing in New York City. The next year, worldwide circulation passed the 250,000 mark. In 1987, Pearson acquired France’s leading business daily, Les Echos, and the Spanish media group, Recoletos. Pearson aligned them with the FT Group. By 1990, the Financial Times was being printed in London, New York City, Frankfurt, Roubaix, and Tokyo.
In 1995, the Financial Times launched the Web siteFT.com, and began printing in Madrid, Stockholm and Los Angeles.Two years later, in 1997,the Financial Times launched its American edition.
In 1984, Gulf + Western, the parent company of the publishing house Simon & Schuster and the movie studio Paramount, acquired Prentice Hall. It became the educational division of Simon & Schuster.
In 1988,Pearson purchased math and science publisher Addison-Wesley and merged it with Longman to form Addison-Wesley Longman. In 1996, The Penguin Group acquired The Putnam Berkley Group. Putnam Berkley merged with Penguin USA to form Penguin Putnam Inc. Pearson also purchased school and college publisher HarperCollins Educational Publishing and merged into Addison-Wesley Longman.
Two years later, in 1998, Pearsonacquired the educational arm of the publishing house Simon & Schuster from Viacom (the parent company of MTV and VH1, Paramount, the CBS television and radio networks). Years later, Viacom divided in two, with one company called Viacom that maintained ownership of BET Networks, MTV Networks (which includes CMT, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and Spike), and Paramount. The other company maintained ownership of CBS television and radio networks and Simon & Schuster changed its name to the CBS Corporation. Both are owned by Sumner Redstone through National Amusements, Inc., a movie theater chain.
That same year, 1997, Pearson merged Addison-Wesley Longman with what had been the educational businesses of Simon & Schuster to form Pearson Education, which became the world’s leading education business. Pearson Education leads all competitors in every major sector of educational publishing, including elementary and secondary school, higher education, professional education, English Language Teaching (ELT), and educational technology, both in the U.S. and in foreign lands.
Over 100 education brands including Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Allyn & Bacon, Addison-Wesley, Silver, Burdette and Ginn, Longman, Benjamin Cummings and Macmillan Publishing USA are covered by Pearson’s umbrella. That same year, Pearson sold the Tussauds Group to a private equity firm, managed by Charterhouse Development Capital.
In 1999, the Financial Times Group launchedFT Deutschlandin Germany. That same year, Pearson formed the Pearson Technology Group to create the world’s largest technology publisher. The new group includes the imprints Macmillan Software, Que, Sams, BradyGAMES, Macmillan Reference, Prentice Hall PTR, Peachpit Press, Addison-Wesley Professional, New Riders, Cisco, and Adobe Press.
In 2000,nPearson acquired Dorling Kindersley, the illustrated reference publisher and integrates it within Penguin to form the Penguin Group (UK). Pearson acquired National Computer Systems (NCS), the leading American educational testing and data-management company for $2,400,000,000. NCS became part of Pearson Education as NCS Pearson. Also in 2000,Pearson completed the sale of its interest in the investment bank Lazard’s.
In 2001, Pearson took an 85% stake in Kirihara, one of Japan’s leading educational publishers. In 2002,Pearson acquired Rough Guides, publisher of travel and music writing, and brings it under Penguin. Pearson sold its 22% stake in broadcasting and content company RTL Group, to Bertelsmann AG for 1,500,000,000 Euros.
In 2003, the Financial Times launched its Asia edition in print and online. Pearson acquired control of Edexcel, the UK’s largest examination awarding body.
In 2004, theFinancial Times Group took a 13.85% stake in Business Standard, one of India’s leading financial newspapers. The Financial Times started printing in Sydney, Australia, bringing the total number of print sites to 23 worldwide.
In 2005, Pearson acquired AGS Publishing from WRC Media for $270,000,000, which enabled Pearson to strengthen its position in testing and publishing for students with special educational needs. Pearson sold its 79% stake in Spanish media group, Recoletos.
In 2007, Pearson Education acquired eCollege® for $477,000,000. Pearson acquired Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International from Reed Elsevier, for $950,000,000. Pearson also sold Groupe Les Echos to luxury products group LVMH.
In 2008, Pearson acquired an additional stake in Longman Nigeria and increased its stake in Maskew Miller Longman. It consolidated its education companies in the region into a new organization, Pearson Southern Africa. In 2009,Pearson took a leading position in English language education in the People’s Republic of China with the acquisition of Wall Street English for $145,000,000, from Wall Street Institute.
In 2010, Pearson sold its 61% stake in Interactive Data to investment funds for $2,000,000,000, and acquired school the learning systems division of Sistema Educacional Brasileiro (SEB), one of Brazil’s leading education companies, for $497,000,000