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Pearson Cuts 10 Percent of Its Workforce– (Possibly) Including Its CEO

January 21, 2016

Addendum 01-21-16, 12 noon CST:

In the post below, I assumed that Pearson CEO John Fallon had been fired. It seems that Fallon has not been terminated but that his job is uncertain.


In Pearson’s February 2014 earnings call, CEO John Fallon and and CFO Robin Freestone were clearly counting on the Common Core to garner notable profits from their US education market.

In discussing the US education market, Fallon spoke of “successfully embed[ding] ourselves with our customers”:

…We are choosing exactly this moment to push ahead with the largest restructuring in the history of Pearson… if we can [and as we] successfully embed ourselves with our customers. …what that work does is shift us much more quickly and much more irreversibly to where the biggest sources of future demand are. …we’re… stepping-up our investment in North America, with an extra GBP 60 million ($102 million) in 2013 alone. … We’re doing so to get ahead of the forces reshaping our industry… and to reduce our exposure to the corresponding risks.  [Emphasis added.] (Transcript compliments of

One of the market analysts in that February 2014 meeting asked about Pearson’s plan if Common Core faltered. Here is what I wrote in May 2014 about that question:

One of the analysts (Whittaker) raises the question of Pearson’s dependence upon 2015 CCSS implementation for future profits. Fallon uses editorials on CCSS as evidence that CCSS will move forward (such sophisticated research, eh?) and comments that before CCSS, “local, stand-alone operating companies” were an impediment to not being able to “scale at anything.” …

Whittaker has asked once about an alternate plan of action if CCSS doesn’t work as anticipated. Fallon responded initially that all of CCSS need not work in 2015, just some of CCSS. Whittaker insists upon hearing of Fallon’s alternate plan of action; Fallon offers no substantive alternate plan.

Well. 2015 has come and gone, and so has CFO Robin Freestone, who participated in his last Pearson earnings call in July 2015. In that meeting, Fallon spoke about the need to polish the Pearson brand and “win hearts and minds… by telling the Pearson story more effectively.”

Guess that isn’t working, either.  December 2015 saw Pearson stock at its lowest since 2009. And on January 21, 2016, the Financial Times announced that Pearson would be cutting 4,000 jobs– 10 percent of its workforce– and that CEO John Fallon was also threatened with getting the boot:

Pearson is axing 4,000 jobs, or 10 per cent of its workforce. The troubled publishing company is trying to arrest a decline in its fortunes resulting from lower educational spending and a muddled digital strategy.

Hefty  restructuring charges of around £320m ($451 million) will be taken in 2016, depressing operating profits to between £260m ($367 million) to £300m ($423 million) from around £600m ($847 million). Pearson has been reducing its geographic spread, its complexity (for example by selling the FT) and investing in online products.

This looks like the last roll of the dice for chief executive John Fallon, who has presided over a plunge in the share price. New chairman Sidney Taurel started earlier this month. [Emphasis added.]

Common Core has not panned out for Pearson.

There are those who insist that Common Core is a success.

Looks like Pearson reality prevents it from joining that brigade.

john fallon  Pearson CEO John Fallon


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. I have said all along that Pearson and Sir Michael Barber are the real master minds behind Common Core. And I still believe that way. If you do research on Sir Michael Barber and read his book Deliverology you will be able to connect the dots. Common Core was implemented like no other standard change in the history of this country. Never before were our books, tests, curriculum, SAT-GED-AP-PSAT and the international test aligned with a set of standards. This was done to make Common Core irreversible. And now ESSA has cemented their work in place. One of the mainstays of Sir Michael Barber’s DELIVEROLOGY is to make the implementation of any reform irreversible. BINGO!!! This put it all in place for me. People need to be taking a long hard look at Barber. He also worked as a consultant with the same company at the same time as David Coleman. David Coleman was also a Rhodes scholar and attended Cambridge and Oxford at the same time Barber was a big shot in UK government. Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence.

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Sir Michael Barber of Pearson, has not been dumped, yet. Among other activities he is a “Technical Panel Advisor” for the totally fraudulent National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

    The 2015, 2016 TeacherPrep reports from NCTQ have ratings schemes that fault teacher education programs for not including specific college texts. Two are from Pearson. No other texts are on NCTQ approved list.

    NCTQ is a sham operation. It publishes rankings of teacher education programs in US News and World Report. NCTQ is now steering prospective students to those ratings with an on-line portal,

    The most recent, and deeply flawed ratings in US News and World Report are based on standards in NCTQ’s annual Teacher Prep Review. HYPERLINK “”

  3. So many traditional government operations, from intelligence to education have been contracted
    out to private companies that it’s hard to see any reason except private profit, public risk and
    stealth. (In the ’80’s I had the good fortune to talk with McKinsey consultants — before they
    had any business in the public sector — nobody sounded like Coleman.)

  4. Carrie Duke permalink

    That’s great!! Common core sucks and so do businesses that try to dictate what is taught in schools!!!!

  5. Elementary school mom permalink

    Honestly,I wish Pearson leaves North America. It’s a disgrace for our children and schools.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Pearson Cuts 4,000 Jobs and Boots CEO | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Interesting News: Pearson cutting Workforce - Stop Common Core NCStop Common Core NC
  3. Pearson Gets Bad Press for Its “Unaligned” Common Core ELA Materials | deutsch29
  4. No Need to “Imagine”: Bill Gates Interferes with Education. | deutsch29

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