Over the course of the last three and a half years, I’ve come across more ‘education non-profits’ tied to Common Core than one can imagine. This sea of non-profit organizations all seem to have their roots in a core set of financial backers : Gates, Hewlitt, Walton, Lumina, Carnegie and many more.
A potemkin village of support for Common Core has been erected using this sea of non-profits as education reform astroturf. Common Core has a key group of these potemkin village homes spanning back to 2010 and earlier:
On May 12, 2010, six reform leaders made their pitch to a roomful of funders, consultants, and staffers of nonprofits at the annual “summit” of the New Schools Venture Fund. The panel was called “Political Savvy: Guidebook for a New Landscape.”
Speakers included executives from Green Dot Public [charter] Schools (Gates, $9.7 million, 2006-2007), Bellwether Education Partners (Gates, $951,800 in 2011), Hope Street Group (Gates, $875,000 in 2008-2009), Stand for Children (as noted above, $5.2 million from Gates, 2003-20011), Democrats for Education Reform (a PAC), and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation (one of the largest ed reform funders, nonetheless a Gates grantee, $3.6 million, 2010).
– Dissent magazine, Spring 2012, “Hired Guns and Astrotuf: How to Buy and Sell School Reform“
I’ve identified a few of the houses in the village already, many of them listed in the passage above, but over the course of the last week I’ve spotted a McMansion I had missed previously.
This is a group that likely started with good intent, but really appears to be just another front group for Bill Gates’s next ‘big idea’ and a policy narrative vehicle for his education reformer friends.
Hope Street Group has invaded North Carolina this year in their conquest to recruit and train teachers or what they refer to as “Fellows”. NC’s Superintendent has welcomed Hope Street with open arms according to the March press release:
“As a teacher myself, I understand the benefits of taking lessons learned in the classroom and applying them to decisions made at the state level. I am excited to have Hope Street Group assist our North Carolina teachers in their quest to become the best educators possible for North Carolina’s children,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson.
“Participating North Carolina teachers are taught how to transform their passion for teaching into an actionable tool for improving the broader teaching profession. As stewards of our children’s education, it is imperative that teachers play an integral, empowered role in informing education policy,” said Dan Cruce, vice president of education at Hope Street Group.
The Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network will have access to a variety of professional development and training opportunities, including peer engagement, data collection and communications strategies. They will collect data from thousands of their colleagues to present to NCDPI. They will also serve as leaders within their own school communities.
This is a version of Teach Plus or Teach For America, but dedicated to Common Core.
Dr. Atkinson is aligning our state with yet another unelected, unaccountable outside group funded and directed by millionaires and Foundations. Why is she not doing her job and working on North Carolina’s sagging teacher college situation?
Remember the term “Teacher Voice Network“, this will be revisited at a later date in follow-up article.
The Teacher Fellows
These “Fellows” appear to be mainly young or new teachers and their training is centered on use and teaching of the Common Core standards. In fact, Hope Street Group recommends that state boards of education require Common Core specific training and proficiency be a requirement of teacher licensure and re-licensure.
This is not conjecture, this fact based directly on one of Hope Street Groups self-touted achievements: The Teacher Common Core Playbook.
The playbook has many endorsers, but this one sticks out:
“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlights Hope Street Group’s work on Race to the Top and says collaboration between different groups could lead to better outcomes in education in this video.”
This playbook deserves deeper scrutiny and there needs to be a conversation on the purpose of teacher colleges, but that’s an article all its own. I’ll get to it.
Given some of what’s out there on Hope Street, the consensus seems to be that these “Fellows” are also recruited to promote pro-testing/data collection environments that Common Core needs to survive; with an emphasis on tying teacher evaluations to test scores.
The agenda of Hope Street Group is clearly to push testing, evaluating teachers based on test scores, and common core. They will hand-pick some naive teachers to be their “Fellows” (or as we like to say, “follows” or “foolows” since they will be following foolish orders on what to say and do), give them a little extra $3500 boost to their paychecks, and train them in how to sweet-talk legislators to vote for the reforms that their donors want. So, it is just like the Teach Plus organization that has already been doing dirty work here in TN, except with a more hopeful-ish name and a rosier-pink lipstick.
– MommaBears.org, 2/27/15, Hope Street is a Dead End for TN and TEA
MommaBears.org characterizes these “Fellows” as trained pro-Common Core/pro-testing sound bite machines in to be trotted out in front of cameras and steered to whisper in the ears of politicians.
Of course, the “Fellows” themselves likely don’t see it that way. Too bad, because when you have to use “talking points” instead of the facts of the service or topic itself, guess what? You’re a sound bite machine.
I’d have to say, that characterization sounds right on target. In North Carolina, we saw these sound bite machines first hand a few weeks back at the last Common Core Commission meeting.
Who else is promoting these “Fellows” and the “Teacher Voice Network” in North Carolina? The PR Firm, EducationNC and the best pal of the NC Chamber of Commerce et al — the Common Core pushing Public Schools Forum NC.
There is A LOT more to Hope Street Group. Stay tuned, next time I’ll give some history and follow the money.