Over the weekend, the Washington Post featured an article on Bill Gates and his foundation, which supplied nearly 3 billion in funding to develop, promote and push Common Core. Gates couldn’t do it alone, he needed the Department of Education on board and dangle a carrot in front of the states. He got it with the Race To The Top grant. What resulted was an education coup.
What opponents have been saying from the start is true: Common Core is not state-led. It’s Gates-led.
The follow-up article today in the Washington Post calls it just that, an education coup. The opening of this article lays bare the key spots of how this happened, with little or no vetting by the states.
My Post colleague Lyndsey Layton has written an illuminating story about the role Bill Gates and his money played in the Common Core State Standards initiative and its adoption by 45 states and the District of Columbia. In great detail, she explains how on one summer day in 2008, two men — Gene Wilhoit, then-director of the Council for Chief State School Officers, and David Coleman, at the time an educational consultant and an “emerging evangelist for the standards movement” — persuaded Gates to fund the creation and marketing of what became the Common Core.
The article makes a few things clear if they weren’t before:
*The Core wasn’t Gates’s idea, but his willingness to underwrite the effort — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars — made it happen. Perhaps another billionaire might have done the same thing had Gates declined, but it wasn’t necessary for Wilhoit and Coleman to look for other funding.
*To make the Core as dominant nationwide as it became, Core creators needed the Obama administration for help in persuading states to adopt the standards. They got it in the form of Race to the Top, a multibillion-dollar competition for federal educational funds launched in 2009 by Education Secretary Arne Duncan that gave points in the calculations for states that adopted “common” standards. Layton reports that in an early draft of Race to the Top, the Common Core was actually written in but later removed at the urging of Wilhoit, “who feared that some states would consider that unwanted — and possibly illegal — interference from Washington.” Layton noted that the Race to the Top “was a clever way around federal laws that prohibit Washington from interfering in what takes place in classrooms.”
*The extent to which money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spread out in the education world is stunning, touching every part of Core creation, advocacy and implementation.
The Washington Post article goes on to link to Diane Ravitch, who calls it an “educational coup”:
This is the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States. Our education system is made up of about 14,000 local school districts; most education policy is set at the state level. But Bill Gates was able to underwrite a swift revolution. It happened so quickly that there was very little debate or discussion. Almost every consequential education group was funded by the Gates Foundation to study or promote the Common Core standards. Whereas most businesses would conduct pilot testing of a major new product, there was no pilot testing of the Common Core. These national standards were written with minimal public awareness or participation, and at least one state — Kentucky — adopted them before the final draft was finished.
Ravitch also thinks it is time for a Congressional investigation:
Who decided to monetize the public schools? Who determined that the federal government should promote privatization and neglect public education? Who decided that the federal government should watch in silence as school segregation resumed and grew? Who decided that schools should invest in Common Core instead of smaller classes and school nurses?
These are questions that should be asked at Congressional hearings.
YES. It is.
The National Review Online expounds on these articles by the Washington Post and Diane Ravitch. Emphasis added:
When the story of the Common Core is finally told, it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to show how the sponsors of the Common Core made a mockery of the Constitution and the democratic process. It’s going to show how the Obama administration pressed a completely untested reform on the states, evading public debate at both the federal and state levels. It’s going to show how a deliberative process that ought to have taken years was compressed into a matter of months. It’s going to show how legitimate philanthropic funding for an experimental education reform morphed into a gross abuse of democracy. It’s going to show how the Obama Education Department intentionally obscured the full extent of its pressure on the states, even as it effectively federalized the nation’s education system. It’s going to show how Common Core is turning the choice of private—especially Catholic—education into no choice at all.
Read the whole thing.
Governor McCrory, do you still think it’s “not a smart move” for North Carolina to be getting itself out of the Common Core fiasco? Still listening to your education aide with the ties to Common Core, Arne Duncan and this administration?
In closing — I’d like to close by taking a moment to enjoy a little vindication. I’m going to point out a specific line from the Washington Post follow-up article to those members at the NC General Assembly, the News and Observer and the NC Chamber of Commerce who keep trying to smear the opposition as Right wing conspiracy nuts.
“The opposition comes from all parts of the political spectrum.”