Down The Digital Learning Rabbit Hole – PT 2

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.

This is part 2, which will look at some history of Bob Wise and his following of Bill Gates education initiatives, as well as Wise’s cozy relationship with Jeb Bush. [Read part 1. ]

Bob Wise – A Timeline

In the previous installment, I noted Bob Wise boasting about his ties to a ‘coalition’ talking about common standards that met in North Carolina in 2006.  Since then, Wise has backed the Education agendas of Bill Gates and Jeb Bush.

One agenda item in particular is Digital Learning. Wise has positioned himself as the leader of the ‘ On-line learning revolution‘.

2007:  Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, Reacts to Bill Gates’ Testimony Before the Senate HELP Committee

2008: “Mr. Wise believes (as does Bill Gates) that America’s high schools are for the most part obsolete, inherently ill-equipped to meet the needs of 21st-century students. The system needs to be remade, reinvented.”

2008: Bill Gates names his “A-List” Ed reformers; includes NC’s Former Governor Jim Hunt and Bob Wise.

2010: The Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), National Governors Association (NGA) and Achieve give a press release introducing Common Core. Among the supporter statements is one from Bob Wise.

2011: Bob Wise Comes to North Carolina… This will be addressed in Part 3.


2012: Jeb Bush gives Bob Wise a ‘digital blueprint’. Diane Ravitch reported:

“But then I discovered a document produced by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellent Education and Bob Wise’s Alliance for Excellent Education. It is called “the Ten Elements of Digital Learning” and it is a rallying cry for deregulation and proliferation of every manner of virtual education, including for-profit virtual charters.

Among other recommendations, it says that teachers should not be certified, as that would hamper innovation and diminish quality. It claims that digital learning will transform education, close the achievement gaps, and narrow the income divide in American society. It promises the world, in short. Digital learning is the magic bullet, so it says.

It does not take note of the studies that say that digital schools underperform brick-and-mortar schools.

The report was funded by–no surprise–the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Foundation.”

2012: Part of Bush’s Digital blueprint included a special group to handle  the task called “Digital Learning Now!”.  Once again, we see the tie to Common Core, per Education Next:

“Many of the pieces that Digital Learning Now! casts as critical to the endeavor are not yet in place, and therefore no one actually knows how they will work in practice. For example, Digital Learning Now! has hitched its wagon to the enactment of the Common Core standards and accompanying next-generation assessments that should be in place by 2014.”

This new group is “An Initiative of ExcelInEd” and dates back to collaborations between Jeb Bush and Bob Wise from 2010, according to their site:

“Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise convened the Digital Learning Council in August 2010 to develop the roadmap to integrate current and future technological innovations into public education. The Digital Learning Council brought together some of the brightest and most respected minds in the United States, all focused on working…”

Wise and Bush are Co-Chairs of ‘Digital Learning Now!’, which also includes a Who’s Who of Common Core funders and supporters like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Data Quality Campaign, Pearson, The Forham Institute, The College Board, American Institutes for Research, The US Dept. of Ed, New Schools Venture Fund and dozens more.

2014: Politico publishes the article, The plot against public Education; How millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools.


“The former Florida governor Jeb Bush was another prominent figure in the front ranks of the corporate push for public education dollars. He hosted an education conference in San Francisco in the fall of 2011 at which Murdoch was the keynote speaker. In the audience were corporate executives, supporters of market-oriented education and elected officials responsible for the laws and policies that regulate corporate access to public education dollars.

Using his allies and contacts from his days in the Florida statehouse and his relationship with two former presidents, Bush was tireless in his promotion of the corporate education agenda. With Bob Wise, the former West Virginia governor, he started an organization called Digital Learning Now!, which took on the task of persuading state legislators to make it easier for companies to get public funding for virtual schools and for the installation of virtual classrooms in brick-and-mortar schools.

2014: Bob Wise is on the board of data collection group, InBloom, when it collapses:

“A FEW years ago a group of American educators got together to talk about a common problem. School systems were being swamped by data—like every other sector of the economy. And like other industries, they had no idea how to respond. But unlike businesses, most schools aren’t competitors. So they looked at how they could team up to solve their problems.

They created a computer system to store data in a secure, common format that gave the schools complete control over what data they collected, how it was used and with whom that data was shared. In a nod to transparency and civic responsibility, the software was open source. A non-profit organisation was formed to run it, backed with $100m from the Gates and Carnegie foundations. A blue-ribbon board of directors was formed, mainly educators but also Bob Wise, a former governor from West Virginia.

And so inBloom was born. But on April 21st, less than two years later, the group announced it is shutting down.”

Common Core has proven so far it does not do what supporters claim, yet here we go with a push for digital curriculum that aligns to it.

Government here to help common coreThe protests on over testing and the data collection that goes with Common Core has been loud, widespread and continues to gain momentum.

Despite the growing outcry and lack of positive evidence supporting their endeavors, Educrats, Ed Reformers and Billionaires continue to drive education in this country.

Because maybe, just maybe, if they throw enough money against the reality of the public school system something will change this time.

Check back later this week for the next installment: Bob Wise – A North Carolina Specific Timeline.



About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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2 Responses to Down The Digital Learning Rabbit Hole – PT 2

  1. Pingback: Common Core Potemkin Village: Hope Street Group – Money and History | Lady Liberty 1885

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