Saturday, December 09, 2006

Discovery Education Network Disaster - Article Clearly States the Corporate Agenda

Hello. This whole Discovery Education Network thing just makes me more upset as more time passes. I really thought a couple of days would help but it hasn't. I know some of the people who remain at DEN and I know they are good people who want the best for educators but the corporate side of Discovery has basically insulted all DEN members by assuming we will continue to basically work for them for FREE and promote their products to fellow teachers. I still don't know if I want to remain an active part of DEN or cut all ties but things like the following article about the elimination of the Field Managers really makes me mad.

Here is the link to the story in the Washington Post and I hope you read it and listen carefully to the message being sent to us (teachers) by corporate Discovery. Here are a few quotes from the story:

"Company officials said many of the positions were unnecessary and that the changes would not impede the company's goal of expanding its education business, which it says reaches 70,000 schools."

"We announced a reorganization of the education group this week. That included shifting responsibilities, elimination of office space and reduction in force that included redundancies and overlapping functions," said David Leavy, a Discovery spokesman."

"According to an internal memo sent to employees Wednesday, the division's revenue has grown 350 percent since 2004. The company declined to give the division's total revenue amount. It also said affected staff might move to other openings within Discovery, including to new initiatives planned for 2007."

"Whenever a company completes multiple acquisitions, there is an important responsibility to continually re-evaluate existing costs, structure and business strategies," Steve Sidel, executive vice president in charge of Discovery Education, said in the memo. "Discovery Education is now in a position to consolidate the business operations of these new companies and gain valuable economies of scale through a careful elimination of redundancies and certain non-core functions."

Are you kidding me? They called the Field Manager postion "unneccesary" and it would not "impede the company's goal of expanding it's education BUSINESS". If BUSINESS is all they are concerned about you think a 350% increase in revenue might be enough for them.

I think the writing is on the wall - what I thought made Discovery great (the personal aspect and the person connection) is now out the and bottom line is what it is all about. I truly worry about the good Discovery DEN people left because it looks like corporate is planning on trying to have you do the work of the 20 people that they fired and if they think I'm going to use a web based portal in the same manner I used the Field Managers they have played the wrong card. There are plenty of other organizations and causes that I can spend my time and energy on to help students and teachers.

I'm sending back my Discovery Educator lab coat to Discovery on Monday. I feel bad for the seven DEN people left but unless something BIG happens to reverse this injustice I'm not longer proud to be a member of DEN - an organization that I once promoted everywhere I went. Sad.


  1. I completely agree with you about letting the Field Managers go. The Illinois Manager, who you probably met when you were in Chicago this summer, is a neighbor of mine. I think it is appalling that 350% growth is not enough for these people. Teachers will promote a good product if it is good for their classrooms, but to leave the promotion of the Discovery Education products SOLELY to the teachers is ridiculous.
    I left the private sector to become a teacher 4 years ago precisely because of this kind of behavior. I am with you, I am returning what I have and am unsubscribing from their blog and newsletter. I will use what we have, but I will no longer be a volunteer promoter for them!

  2. Anonymous8:00 AM

    This speaks volumes for the DEN members. Teachers are far classier than any corporation anyday. Teachers believe in honoring promises and plans made. They do not plan aburptly changing everything and cutting off all contact - unless it is because of a problem. The DEN FMs were not a problem, they were a true service that they have been advertising as a great support system for their products. We weren't selling for Discovery Ed, that will be left for the sales team, but our promotion of products was a big help in their increased sales revenue. Come on? How many of you would promote COSMEO in your schools just because......

    I know they want us to carry on, pick up the torch. I don't even know if I'd like the human touch to be whatever it was that the last three were that got hired (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon). I think they called them the DEN leaders on the blogs. But they were full time teachers and there is no way that they can support us, encourage us, teach us, and be enough for us after having the personal touch of an FM. Not saying they are doing this, just saying I don't believe this is enough to keep it going. Hope the seven left have the energy of 20 others and can be in more than one place at a time to carry this torch or at least re-light ours.

  3. Anonymous4:39 PM

    This has been a fiasco. I'm still stunned that Discovery - a corporation I thought was making a decision to sand out from the rest by truly valuing educators - has shown me they are no better than the rest. I felt I was a part of something special. . . changing the direction of education. . . something we need . . . at a vital time when the world is in exponential growth. We need a shining star. . . but I guess we're still looking. Without the FM there's not a DEN!

  4. Anonymous8:04 PM

    Looks like they use it to suck you into United Streaming. At $2,000.00 per building for eight classroom buildings at my school, we could have a half a teacher. That's a nice profit for letting a small number of teachers suck down what probably amounts to a couple of thousand dollars worth of licensing fees. Why not scrape it off the National Archives like they do?

    Let me tell you, we could use a half a teacher, or even a janitor.

  5. Anonymous5:43 PM

    Be a little fare Bob, the situation stinks, but that's a little much. It's about $2000 a school not a class, we pay that. The pricing has never been bad compared to other, less effective services. They offer a lot and I'm sure they pay a good portion of that back in royalties. They make a profit for sure, no profit no service, I don't see a single state or the feds stepping up to the plate to provide free educational materials. Compared with the cost of books it's a bargain. I'd much rather have access to unitedstreaming then use my set outdated, poorly written text books.

    Everywhere I look I see this 350% increase in revenue and people disgusted by it. WAKE UP!! Unitedstreaming works. Why did you join the DEN? Because it works. Of course there's going to be growth of that kind over two years. They didn't have a 350% increase in profit, just revenue, meaning more and more schools got what we got, that this is then new way of teaching.

    I'm starting to feel like a defender of Discovery and maybe I am. I just think you should be fair and have the truth. I do think that Discovery made a bad decision and I will do what I can to try and get our DEN back, by emailing everyone I can within the company letting them know what a difference that organization made. I think the worst thing to do is to abandon something that was working because a corporation behaved like a corporation. Unitedstreaming is making a difference at my school, students are excited about learning and technology is starting to catch up with its' hype.

    I will stick with and by Discovery and everytime someone asks what I think about them I'll say, I wish we had the DEN back. The heads at the top may not get it, but I know the ones making unitedstreaming do.