Methinks Pearson Doth Propriety-ize Too Much

On Friday I received a 188 word email invitation to an “Arkansas Forum” to “learn about and discuss current hot topics in Arkansas academia” from the Pearson company. Invitations like this aren’t all that uncommon; I receive them with some frequency and it seems that every single day there is a book buyer on campus with 3 million titles on her or his electric reader that wants to stop by my office, take a look at my books, and buy them from me. I’ve only responded to either a couple of times, asking them to promptly get lost.

The reason I’m writing about Friday’s invitation is that the message from the education corporation Pearson contained the following 222 word disclaimer:

“Pearson is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct and does not intend to create even the appearance of impropriety when providing a meal or refreshments to a university employee and we recognize that you are committed to the same standards.  As part of Pearson’s ongoing effort to maintain open, honest, and ethical relations with our customers, we want to ensure that by offering you a meal or refreshments valued at up to $25, neither you nor Pearson violates the letter or spirit of applicable ethics or gift laws or rules (“Ethics Rules”).  By accepting an invitation to attend this event, you hereby certify that you are not prohibited by any applicable Ethics Rules from receiving a meal or refreshments provided by Pearson, that your receipt of a meal or refreshments from Pearson does not require disclosure by you or Pearson, and that you are authorized to make these representations.  You agree to let Pearson know right away if you later learn that your receipt of a meal or refreshments violates any such rules or requires any such disclosure.  If Pearson becomes aware that your receipt of a meal or refreshments violates any applicable Ethics Rule or otherwise requires disclosure, you understand that Pearson may request reimbursement from you for the meal or refreshments.”

What an absurd disclaimer. Why do they feel the need to add something like that to the bottom of a message? I found it interesting that the disclaimer was both longer and in slightly larger print than the message itself.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the Pearson’s connections to the PARCC exam and the fact that Arkansas is still holding on by a thread to the idea that all of our children will be subjected to that this spring. Other than the parent company and the time, I have no evidence that the invitation and the exam rollout are related.

Even though, it made me go hmmm.

Will giving the appearance of propriety help salvage the 17 million dollar payday when the PARCC rides into town?