School Controversy Over Free Trips

Questions about the proper relationship between school officials and education publishing companies are at the heart of a controversy involving Jessamine County's superintendent of schools and her connections to the Pearson Foundation. According to the New York Times, Jessamine County Superintendent Lu Young took a trip to Australia in the summer of 2010 - a trip paid for by the Pearson Foundation, a non-profit wing of the country's largest education publisher, Pearson.

Six months later, Young was part of a committee that interviewed executives from three companies vying to run the state's testing system. Despite failing to offer the lowest bid, Pearson won the contract.

Young has said the two events were unrelated. The state's education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who also took trips to Brazil and China underwritten by the Pearson Foundation, also said, through a spokesperson, that the contract was awarded based on best value, not necessarily the lowest bid. The Pearson Foundation's president wrote in an email that, "It just is not true that the foundation's support of conferences attended by education officials has the purpose of helping Pearson corporate to win contracts.