Bill Gates’ private foundation has spent over $170 million for the development and implementation of the Common Core standards. The Microsoft founder was asked on ABC and by the American Enterprise Institute to defend the K-12 academic standards this past week. The question is, why is a college dropout non-mathematician being asked to defend the Common Core math standards?
Both ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and pro-Common Core AEI interviewed billionaire Gates about the Common Core, no doubt part of the planned big business media blitz launched to defend the nationalized standards, which have grown so highly controversial that 33 states have initiated some form of legislation against them.
In both interviews, Gates hits some of the usual Common Core talking points: that the standards will make American students competitive globally; that the standards are “rigorous;” that the standards are “just standards, not curriculum;” that the standards came to be when a “bunch of governors” and a “bunch of teachers met with some experts” to create them.
The facts are that the Common Core standards have never been tested or proven to make American students globally competitive. They have never been internationally “benchmarked.” No one knows if the standards are “rigorous,” for the very same reason: they have never been tested or proven.
The Common Core K-12 standards were developed by three private organizations in Washington D.C.: the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and progressive education company Achieve Inc. All three organizations were privately funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
There is no official information about who selected the individuals who wrote the Common Core standards. However, none of the writers of the math and English Language Arts standards have ever taught math, English, or reading at the K-12 level. In addition, the Standards Development Work Groups never had any members who were high school English and mathematics teachers, English professors, scientists, engineers, parents, state legislators, early childhood educators, and state or local school board members.
As for the standards just being “standards, not curriculum,” experienced educators know that standards are what drive curriculum.
In the AEI interview, non-mathematician Gates is asked to comment on and defend the Common Core math standards, just as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, funded by the Gates Foundation, and AEI, also funded by the Gates Foundation to the tune of $4.4 million, are promoting the standards and attacking parents and teachers opposed to them, when they have no apparent knowledge of high school academic standards.
In September of 2013, in a paper at Pioneer Institute, Stanford mathematician Dr. James Milgram and Massachusetts standards developer Dr. Sandra Stotsky, both of whom were asked to be members of the Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the Common Core standards, asserted that the nationalized math standards would fail to prepare students for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
“With the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II,” said Milgram. “They include no precalculus or calculus.”
Similarly, Stotsky added, “It’s astonishing that 46 boards and departments of education adopted Common Core’s ‘college- and career-ready’ standards without asking the faculty who teach math at their own higher education institutions to do an analysis of Common Core’s definition of college readiness.”
Both professors observe that, in March of 2010, Jason Zimba, the lead writer of the Common Core math standards, admitted, at a Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, that “the minimally college-ready student is a student who has passed Algebra II,” an acknowledgment that hardly corroborates Gates’ claim that Common Core will allow American students to be competitive with “Asian” and other nations.
Furthermore, Zimba, a physics professor and business partner of Common Core “architect” – and now College Board president – David Coleman, stated that Common Core was not suitable for either STEM careers or selective colleges. Once again, how can Gates or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or AEI, claim that Common Core math standards will prepare American students for global competition when the person who served as their lead writer admits the standards will not prepare high school students for STEM careers and will not enable them to achieve entrance into selective colleges?
As Milgram and Stotsky assert, Zimba’s comments have “extremely serious implications for the high school mathematics and science curriculum,” as well as undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate programs requiring high-level mathematical knowledge.
In addition, the standards experts state that Zimba’s admission “nullifies the main reason the federal government provided over four BILLION dollars in Race to the Top (RttT) funds; it expected these new standards to improve the critical STEM pipeline.”
“Zimba’s explanation of college readiness together with the requirements for the RttT proposals,” they continue, “raise a strong suspicion that many if not most states were seduced into signing on to Common Core’s standards by misleading, possibly fraudulent, claims about what the standards were designed to achieve.”