Textbook Publisher Sacked Employee In O’Keefe Sting Video On Common Core

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Tuesday distanced itself from comments made by a now former employee about the publishing industry’s role in Common Core, which were captured in a sting video produced by conservative video maker James O’Keefe.

In the video critical of the education standards, individuals with O’Keefe’s Project Veritas posed as political consultants to ask about Common Core. They caught on camera teachers disparaging the standards and filmed a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt employee saying that textbook publishers care more about making money than educating young students.

In the video, former Houghton Mifflin Harcourt employee Dianne Barrow can be heard saying “I hate kids” and telling O’Keefe’s undercover videographers that textbook publishers are “in it for the money.”

The publisher on Tuesday criticized former employee Dianne Barrow’s statements on the video, noting that she is no longer with the company.

“Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is as appalled by these comments as we expect readers will be. These statements in no way reflect the views of HMH and the commitment of our over 4,000 employees who dedicate their lives to serving teachers and students every day,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt CEO Linda Zecher said in a statement to TPM. “The individual who made these comments is a former employee who was with HMH for less than a year.”

It’s not clear when Barrow left Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Bianca Olson, senior vice president for corporate affairs with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, told the Daily Mail on Tuesday that Barrow “has been terminated.” The Daily Mail reported that came after it read Barrow’s comments to Olson over the phone. James O’Keefe said in a tweet on Tuesday that Barrow was fired before he released the video publicly.

In LinkedIn and Facebook accounts that appear to belong to Barrow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is still listed as her employer. She began her job there in April 2015, according to LinkedIn.

In the video, Barrow tells the videographers, “I’m in it to sell books, don’t even kid yourself for a heartbeat.”

And she says that all textbook publishers feel the same way.

“It’s all about the money,” she says in the video. “You don’t think that educational publishing companies are in it for education, do you? No. They’re in it for the money.”

“The fact that they have to align to educational standards is what they have to do to sell the books,” she adds later.

When asked if publishers have lobbied for Common Core, Barrow replies, “No, they didn’t lobby for them to be put in place, but they lobby — now they go after the money.”

James O’Keefe is a controversial, conservative provocateur known for producing undercover videos targeting Democrats and groups supporting progressives. He published a video in September claiming that a Canadian citizen bought Hillary Clinton swag at the presidential candidate’s campaign kick-off rally, which reporters widely mocked. O’Keefe also asked an employee to attend a Black Lives Matter rally and make statements like “I wish I could just kill some of these cops,” TPM reported in March. He has also been known to exaggerate in promoting his stories.

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