Technology is not going away nor should it. Digital Learning is coming to states everywhere, including North Carolina. There are many pros and cons surrounding Digital Learning.
What I want to talk about is where the push for Digital Learning is coming from and how it is connected to North Carolina. There are some key players, history and money influences that are driving legislation in our state; specifically HB660.
Buckle up, this is not light reading and this will be a multi-part series.
‘Support is not about the Gates Money’
Let’s flashback to a 2014 article that appeared in the Huffington Post, which was penned by the President of Alliance for Excellent Education, Bob Wise. Wise is also the former Governor of West Virginia.
The title of the piece is, Common Core Proponents Were Motivated by Inadequate State Standards, Not Gates Money.
The article is a push back piece to the Washington Post calling out Bill Gates and the millions he’s poured into Common Core. Wise complains the Washington Post was missing the big question, which in his opinion, is ‘why new standards were necessary’. Wise ignores that perhaps standards wasn’t and still isn’t the problem at all.
In his screed, Wise gives some history. He was part of a meeting centered around ‘common standards’ way back in 2006. This meeting was held in North Carolina:
“Back in 2006, I was present at the first meeting of state organizations and educators to discuss the possibility of states developing a common set of education standards that were more rigorous than what states were currently using. The meeting was not convened in Seattle by Bill Gates; it was held in North Carolina at the invitation of that state’s former governor, Jim Hunt. It was an eclectic group — Republicans and Democrats, strict accountability hawks and diehard opponents — who held wide-ranging views on the federal-state-school district relationship in education.”
So this meeting took place in 2006 in North Carolina? Who were the NC Democrats and Republicans in attendance? Gates didn’t call the meeting, but was he there?
We might never know the answers, since Wise doesn’t allude to any name for this meeting or materials for the public to examine.
Wise wants everyone to know Bill Gates is innocent. It’s not the money! Prior to penning the Huffington Post piece, Wise ranted on the Alliance for Excellent Education Blog that it was a coalition that ‘pulled off the Common Core revolution’.
Yes, but Gates’s money helped build that ‘coalition’. In fact, it helped Alliance for Excellent Education build that coalition quite a lot, as we are about to see.
Follow The Gates Money
As of June 21st, 2015, Alliance for Excellent Education has received 11 grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The total sum of those 11 grants is $17,740,410.
In 2003, Gates gave the Alliance for Excellent Education what appears to be over $500k in seed money.
Of that over $17 million dollar total, grants given that relate to Common Core under “College Ready” totaled $11,313,870.
In particular, one grant was from November 2009 for the sum of $551,336 was given expressly “to grow support for the common core standards initiative“.
Gee … No, Mr. Wise, money had nothing to do with the support Common Core received.
Coming up in the next installment, I’ll look at a little bit more history of Bob Wise and his following of Bill Gates education initiatives, as well as Wise’s cozy relationship with Jeb Bush.