Hagerty Served Two Years as Director of Company That Sells Common Core Materials


Dr. Manny Sethi continues to beat the drum for Bill Hagerty’s connections to Common Core State Standards, but how much, if any, was the former ambassador to Japan entangled with the controversial learning scheme?

Sethi aired an ad attacking Hagerty for “making millions” off Common Core. The ad is available here.

The Tennessee Star this past week has asked both campaigns about that claim.

When asked by email Sunday about the claim, Hagerty’s campaign simply referred back to a statement they had made to The Star that ran in a story Friday.

Hagerty campaign spokeswoman Abigail Sigler addressed the ad in an email Thursday. The Tennessee Star specifically asked Sigler about Sethi’s claim that Hagerty made millions of dollars off Common Core and whether it was true.

“Of course, Bill worked to defeat Barack Obama in 2012, unlike Massachusetts Manny Sethi who applied to be in the Obama Biden White House. Manny Sethi’s Never Trumpers have been attacking Bill since the day President Trump endorsed and announced his run for Senate,” Sigler said.

“President Trump looked at all the candidates in this race, and he endorsed Bill because he trusts Bill to stand with him to protect conservative values, get our economy going again, hold China accountable, and stand up for life.”

Hagerty once had ties to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a textbook company that sells books using the Common Core curriculum. On May 11, 2010, the company announced Hagerty signed on as a director on the board.

“Bill provides proven expertise as well as a unique and valuable perspective

to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,” said Barry O’Callaghan, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “His experience reflects a deep understanding of both business and educational considerations. Additionally, his Tennessee roots support our continued commitment to the state as a partner in improving education.”

Hagerty was on the HMH board from May 2010 to June 2012, according to a Feb. 23, 2015 press release from RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. That company was announcing that Hagerty was joining its board of directors.

The Star asked Sethi campaign spokesman Forrest Barnwell-Hagemeyer for any evidence that Hagerty “made millions” off Common Core.

Barnwell-Hagemeyer said:

“Hagerty and HMH made millions from Common Core. Hagerty’s company implemented the Federal Government takeover of our schools while Hagerty was a director, they sent press releases bragging about it, and they continued cashing in to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars during the Obama administration.”

He referred to a brief March 11, 2015 story on CNBC about Common Core, available here.

States have already awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in Common Core-related contracts to businesses including Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education CTB, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Apple since 2012. And, despite some legal challenges and boycotts, more contracts potentially worth billions of dollars for testing, instructional materials and teacher training are on the way.

The Star then asked Barnwell-Hagemeyer “Do you have anything tying him specifically to HMH’s push for Common Core?”

Barnwell-Hagemeyer responded, “Yes, he was a director,” then said that when Hagerty was on the board, HMH began selling a Common Core English Language Arts literature anthology.

A March 7, 2011 announcement of that initiative is available here.

A search of the Securities and Exchange Commission for HMH filings and the keyword “Hagerty” shows this S-1/A registration statement listing his FY2012 salary as $79,500.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.




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13 Thoughts to “Hagerty Served Two Years as Director of Company That Sells Common Core Materials”

  1. 2nd Grade Teacher

    I am a teacher AND a conservative, and I need to point out that the CCSS are not “teaching methods,” and they are not a curriculum. CCSS are merely expectations for what students should know by the end of a grade level. Most states have adopted their own versions by now.
    I am a strong advocate for states’ rights and local control. However, I do not see a problem with holding our students and teachers to high standards. Teachers are not forced to teach CCSS with any specific method, but rather, use research to support students in their mastery of rigorous standards.
    Let me also point out that there is nothing wrong with HMH or other textbook companies that adopt CC or new state standards. This is competition–part of the free market we enjoy. I have taken part in a textbook adoption process myself, and I can assure you that when a school district is seeking a multi-million dollar contract with a textbook company for a new curriculum, that district will be thorough as it shops and considers the best materials for its teachers and students. Textbook companies should be competitive–this results in schools and districts having choices and options that will best meet their needs.

  2. Barbara Cassell

    I don’t like Hagerty’s ties to Romney and the swamp.

  3. LB

    May 2, 2018 by Baxter Dmitry

    After spending $400 million on forcing schools around the country to adopt Common Core, Bill Gates has finally admitted that the controversial teaching method is a failure, and significantly less effective than traditional teaching methods.

    Parents and teachers across the nation have been urging schools to dump the toxic Common Core curriculum, arguing that it deliberately dumbs down children and creates unnecessary and complicated methods for working out relatively simple problems.

    The Gates Foundation has spent more than $400 million itself and influenced a staggering $4 trillion in U.S. taxpayer funds towards making Common Core the mandatory curriculum across the country. Eight years later, however, and after a huge wave of disapproval, Bill Gates is finally admitting that his and Barack Obama’s baby, Common Core, is a failure.

    “Based on everything we have learned in the past 17 years, we are evolving our education strategy,” Gates wrote on his blog as a preface to a speech he gave in Cleveland. He followed this by admitting that U.S. education has essentially made no improvement in the years since he and his foundation — working closely with the Obama administration — began redirecting trillions of public dollars towards programs he now admits failed our children.
    Reference: bwcentral.org/2018/05/bill-gates-admits-his-common-core-experiment-is-a-failure/

  4. Kalee

    Millions? Hagerty’s FY2012 salary was 79,500 x 2 for serving on a textbook publisher’s board 2 years. Our small-town county executive (population 27,000) makes more than that! Yet Manny was willing to work in the Obama administration for a larger salary working to actually IMPLEMENT Obama policies? Can you say hypocrite? Hill of beans? Desperate?

    1. Randy

      2018 Tennessee average household income was 71,000 ! Hagerty’s board service part time work was 79,500 higher than the average couple! That is good compensation! Ask the average Tennessee couple!!!

  5. Beatrice Shaw

    So….I would like to know WHAT is wrong with Common Core? A progressive, inclusive curriculum is needed in every state and standardized materials must accompany this effort. Noting to see here, folks.

    1. Julie

      It is failing that is what is wrong with it. Since the unions are in control of education and donate heavily to the Democrat party there are no demands to fix the problems.

      1. 83ragtop50

        Julie – Thank you for pointing to documentation of the failed Common Core biased teaching materials. I was appalled when Tennessee educational officials fell allover themselves in getting to the fed’s Race to the Top feeding trough. To heck with the kids’ education. Just grab the federal dollars (bribes) no matter what. It is like the “free lunch program”. Got to make sure the kids’ rears are in the seat so the federal money keeps pouring in. What happened to parents providing food for their children? Just more federal welfare.

        1. Denise Teague

          I couldn’t agree more Julie~!

    2. Ron Welch


      “Don’t sell it as socialism; sell it as progressivism, economic democracy and social justice.”
      –Saul Alinksy

      “Nothing to see here, folks.” Yep, leave out the failed history of socialism, which has always been regressive to poverty, slavery and death to those who wanted freedom.

    3. Judy

      You probably didn’t have children or grandchildren who had to learn that garbage. Common core is a complete disaster!

  6. Randy Haley

    Was Tennessee Department of Education buying or recommending HMH textbooks/ teaching materials While Haggerty served on the HMH board of Directors?

  7. Stuart I Anderson

    To say that “Hagerty. . . made millions from Common Core” because he sat on the Board of Directors of HMH for about two years is really no more preposterous than saying that Chairman Manny is a “CONSERVATIVE-OUTSIDER” when he has had absolutely no connection with the Tennessee’s conservative movement while having little connection to the movement’s candidates and he was Chairman of the Republican Establishment’s flagship fundraising Statesmen’s Dinner and is close friends with a number of former Chairmen of the Tennessee Republican Party. The Chairman’s campaign is a craftily constructed package of nonsense which conservatives should reject by voting for Hagerty.