Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In Pearson we trust. Really? But our blood is never blue.

Remember back in April, when a single insipid test question sparked the pineapple rebellion and shone a light, not only on current standardized testing practices, but on the whole testing industry and its leading profiteer, Pearson Publishing? With lives, careers and the very existence of schools hanging in the balance, we have become totally reliant on Pearson and the testing companies to measure and arbitrate truth and correctness. Even more so, with the era of the Common Core curriculum at hand. But what happens when Pearson is wrong -- either in the content of their texts or in the proscribed answers on their tests?

Check out this exchange between Chicago Science/Math Teacher Oscar Newman and Pearson.
November 17, 2012 
To Whom It May Concern, 
My school recently purchased Pearson's Interactive Science for our middle school students (6-8 Grades). While preparing for a lesson, I happened upon the following quote, from the Interactive Physical Science book 1 TE, p.119 Under "Science and Society": "The influx of oxygen changes blood's color from blue to red...Have students examine their arms to see if they have any blue veins. Explain that the blood in those veins is headed back to the heart and lung to receive more oxygen." 
Really? I am appalled at the poor scientific review that this book apparently underwent. Even cursory editing would have prevented this error. Human blood is never blue.
Hemoglobin turns bright red when oxygenated. Deoxygenated (vertebrate) blood is dark red. Mollusks and some arthropods use hemocyanin, which turns blue when oxygenated due to the copper it contains, but our blood is never blue. Pigments in skin cause veins to appear blue. Those who have donated blood are well aware of this, in fact, I show my students a photo of me donating blood to dissuade them of this misconception. 
I was on the team that decided to purchase this series for my school, and I am saddened that I did not catch this in time or have a chance to question the representative who sold this product. I will now thoroughly check these science texts to make sure that I do not have to waste valuable instructional time addressing this and other foolishness.
Please address this problem in future versions. 
Yours in outrage, 
Oscar Newman,
NBCT (EA Science 2002, 2011) 7-8 Grade Science and Math Teacher 
Chicago Academy Elementary School  3400 N. Austin Ave. Chicago, IL 60634
Pearson responds to Oscar Newman 
Question Reference #121117-000138 
Thank you for contacting our Curriculum K12 Customer Service Dept. Our customer service team will research your request and respond as quickly as possible.
Our regular office hours are 8:00AM to 6:00PM Eastern standard time, Monday through Friday. If you received this message outside our normal operating hours, please expect our team to begin researching your inquiry the next business day. We appreciate your business. 
Learn about our Virtual Learning Achievement Guarantee.Click here for details: 
So far, Oscar tells me he has received no call-back from Pearson. So for millions of American public school students and their teachers, human blood remains blue -- at least for the purpose of getting the answer right on the test.


  1. Yes. I am a businessman and an entrepreneur.
    Some companies are like Pearson, they are very successful, after a while they do not respect customers and then they bankrupt one day . Then they say " why we bankrupted ? "
    So that is a sign for this company too .

    1. Thanks for these encouraging words, Ilhan. Yes, the company, by virtue of its leadership not having any (virtue, that is)will inevitably self-destruct, whereby its CEOs & bigwigs will retire w/millions, while those lowly middle managers and workers will be set adrift (bail now, Pearson robots, before it's too late!).
      Most importantly, however, our children will be relieved of trite testing and textbooks (as factually incorrect as they are), teachers will be able to teach once again and public education will be restored to where it belongs.

  2. Our school just purchased this book and I was immediately concerned when I saw your article. I can confirm that the 2013 edition of the book (Physical Science book 1 TE pg. 119 under "Science and Society") clearly states "Remind students that their blood is not blue but that their veins may look blue because of the way light interacts with the skin."


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.