In an op-ed in USA Today Wednesday, Bill Gates writes that the Common Core State Standards are to be “commended” because they will “improve education for millions of students” and that arguments against the standards are “shrouded in myths.”
After the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent well over $170 million to create and implement the Common Core standards, allying itself with political elites, Gates is defending his pet project that is now mired in controversy.
Ironically, Gates’s claim that Common Core is “among the most important education ideas in years” is minimized by his next statement, “The standards are just that: standards, similar to those that have guided teachers in all states for years…”
Gates’s main point, however, which points to the primary goal of Common Core is in the remainder of that sentence:
…except these standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.
Today, 80% of students say they expect to go to college while only 40% of adults have an associate degree or higher. Clearly, the old standards didn’t help them achieve their goals. Common Core was created to fix that.
Gates assumes, first, that Americans believe students can only succeed if they attend college and, second, that they believe the only reason that some students do not attend college is poor academic standards. Working hard in school, having loving parents who are actively involved in their children’s school and social lives, a stable family life that supports a solid work ethic and achievement of goals, and developing one’s own natural intelligence and skills – these are immaterial. Instead, it’s “the standards” that now make or break an American student.
Gates would have Americans believe that with Common Core, there’s no need to worry – problem solved. The national “government” standards will be what allow all students to get to college. Implicit, of course, in Gates’s statement is the progressive notion that many low-income and minority children – Common Core “architect” David Coleman referred to them as “low-hanging fruit” – will never get to college without the government doing it for them.
In an attempt to dispel the so-called “myths” put forward by Common Core opponents, Gates continues to spread a few of his own.
Regarding the standards, Gates claims, “And at least 75% of teachers support them, according to several surveys.”
As Breitbart News previously reported, Gates is simply parroting the words of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) who continues to falsely say that most teachers are supportive of the Common Core standards.
Common Core historian Dr. Mercedes Schneider has noted:
Randi Weingarten really wants to promote the illusion that teachers have bought into the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). She hired Hart Research Associates to conduct a survey of AFT membership regarding perceptions about CCSS, and Hart did so March 27 – 30, 2013. Weingarten has used this survey as a platform to proclaim that “75% of AFT teachers surveyed support the Common Core.”
Gates’s next point is “Common Core also has the benefit of consistency. Americans move more than 10 times over the course of a lifetime. Inconsistent standards like the ones we’ve had until now punish students who have to switch schools.”
Aside from Gates’s attempt to instill guilt – a common liberal ploy – that, currently, parents who find they must move their children to other schools are “punishing” them, the devastating flaw in this argument is that it seeks support from the unstated premise of a national curriculum: gaps in education when a student transfers from a school in New Hampshire to a school in Arkansas can only be avoided if the same things are being taught at the same time across the entire nation.
Gates’s argument begs the question: is it a nationalized curriculum, or isn’t it? He apparently is taking both sides on that question.
Next, Gates attempts to tackle the “myth” that the Common Core standards were created without parent, teacher, or state and local government involvement.
“In fact the standards were sponsored by organizations made up of governors and school officials. The major teacher unions and 48 states sent teams, including teachers, to participate,” he states. “The Gates Foundation helped fund this process…”
In fact, the Gates Foundation funded these organizations with the following amounts to support and implement the Common Core standards:
The National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices received $23.6 million from the Gates Foundation prior to June of 2009, when the standards were completed, and an additional $2.1 million after that date “to work with state policymakers on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.”
Prior to June of 2009, the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) received $47.1 million, with the largest payout for data “access” and “data driven decisions.” After Common Core completion, the Gates Foundation funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants given for implementation and assessment, data acquisition, and control.
The Gates Foundation also funded progressive nonprofit Achieve, Inc. both prior to June of 2009, with a grant of $23.5 million, and after the completion of the Common Core standards with another $13.2 million for the purpose of “building strategic alliances” for Common Core promotion.
In addition, Coleman’s nonprofit organization, Student Achievement Partners, which is solely focused on the Common Core standards, received $6.5 million from the Gates Foundation.
As for teachers’ unions, the Gates Foundation gave $5,400,000 to Weingarten’s AFT and the National Education Association (NEA) was granted $3,982,597 – for the express purpose of advancing the Common Core Standards.
The fact remains that the Common Core State Standards were created from an alliance between political elites and corporatists. Not one citizen-elected legislative body has had any input into the standards or the system of development by which they were created. In addition, to this day, the Common Core standards are owned and copyrighted by private organizations with no accountability to parents or students of any state.
Not much to be “commended” in Common Core.