Common Core PR Machine: The Collaborative For Student Success

Politico has a brief blurb about Glenn Beck’s We Will Not Conform event. At the end of that blurb, they lend credibility to the panel I was on – Messaging and Public Relations. Here’s what Politico has up:

Pushing back against Beck’s populist rage, the Collaborative for Student Success today will release two videos featuring former Republican governors praising the Common Core standards. The collaborative, which has received funding from the Gates Foundation, plans to promote the videos through social media. A peek:

That “peek” goes to The Collaborative for Student Success.  They make some wild claims on that about page, including citing a statistic of support that they do not have a link to support. You’re just supposed to take their word for it.  Their ‘about‘ page clearly states who is behind this group. It’s exactly who you think:

The Collaborative is supported by both regional and national foundations, including: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Other funders may soon be joining this important effort.

So, another Common Core pushing PR group? Pretty much. They’re pushing the favorite of every Common Core advocate — the ‘Myth/Fact’ chart.  They’re also promoting videos designed to play to the ‘politicizing‘ tactic supporters have been opting for.


 Dig Into Collaborative For Student Success A Bit

If you click on Projects, at the bottom we find a statement that indicates they’ve been giving money to Chambers of Commerce. Tidy way to keep that off the Gates Grant website.

Initial grantees have included groups representing state departments of education, state advocacy organizations, educator-led organizations, faith-based organizations, and local chambers of commerce.

 So, Where Does Collaborative for Student Success Get It’s Money?

That’s a good question. In running down the myriad of companies I’ve found the fine print usually holds the key. Translated: Look at the very bottom of their website. It’s the New Venture Fund.

The Collaborative for Student Success is a project of the New Venture Fund © 2014

Read about how “The New Venture Fund (NVF) works to achieve a healthier, more equitable world.”  Check out New Venture Fund’s 501 non-profit and tax filings. A lot of money sloshing around inside this group; a nice earmark of it goes to the Tides Foundation. NVF offers some of their financial information on their site.

Where does New Venture Fund Get It’s Money?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Since 2009, New Venture has received $67,679,450 million overall from Gates. If you drill down to just “College Ready” the dollar amount is $26,972,566.  The most recent grant in 2014 was over $10 million with the purpose of, ” to support the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards and related assessments through comprehensive and targeted communications and advocacy in key states and the District of Columbia.”

They’re losing and this shows it. They’re pumping money into PR and messaging campaigns like a slot machine junkie in Vegas.

It would make sense then that number one in their project directory is Bill and Melinda Gates. Scroll down the project page, click on “Collaborative for Student Success”. Text you find there is as follows:

The Collaborative for Student Success is a multi-donor fund that seeks to invest in national, regional, and state communications and messaging efforts that build support among parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers for implementing Common Core state education standards. The collaborative will invest in grants to education groups that support messaging and polling activities, the development of communications toolkits, and convenings to advance the implementation of the Common Core standards.

Polling, messaging, communications toolkits, ‘advance the implementation of Common Core’… Where’s the student in all of that?
Collaborative for Student Success is misnamed. It should be Collaborative for Common Core Success.


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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