For at least four years now, Common Core champions have been insisting that the new standards are “just standards, not curriculum.” States and local school districts, they say, can choose whatever curriculum they like. A new non-profit organization, however, has been tasked with reviewing classroom textbooks and other instructional materials to ensure they are aligned with the Common Core standards.
EdReports.org, funded by both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, is set to launch this coming winter. The organization will “provide free, web-based reviews of instructional materials series focusing on alignment to the Common Core and other indicators of high quality as recommended by educators, including usability, teacher support and differentiation.”
As Politico reports, the group will first review K-8 math curricula such as Pearson’s enVision math, McGraw-Hill’s Everyday Math, Houghton Mifflin’s Go Math, and over a dozen other widely used curricula. In years to come, EdReports plans to review high school math and English Language Arts (ELA), as well.
The EdReports website states that national education policy firm, Education First, is “incubating the new nonprofit through its launch in the winter of 2014.” Among Education First’s many clients is Common Core champion, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Innovation Fund.
The EdReports website states:
These Consumer Reports-style reviews will highlight those instructional materials that are aligned to the higher standards states have adopted so that teachers, principals and district and state officials charged with purchasing materials can make more informed choices.
Leading the EdReports project is Eric Hirsch, formerly of the Gates-funded New Teacher Center, and Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, also funded by the Gates Foundation. According to Politico, both Hirsch and Klawe say their goal is for school districts to use their ratings to guide their purchases of curricula.
“Hopefully with great materials, great teachers and great standards, we will be able to move the needle on student achievement,” Hirsch said.
The narrative remains among Common Core supporters that the controversial standards are “higher” and “great.” These descriptors are added to the more familiar term, “rigorous.” From the language used by the pro-Common Core crowd, some Americans would hardly be able to guess that the Common Core standards were never independently tested or proven to be “rigorous,” “higher,” or “great.” In fact, 45 states adopted them – sight unseen – before they were even published.
Politico notes that incoming National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia supports the new EdReports project and says curriculum ratings could improve Common Core implementation “by shining a light” on quality materials.
What this means is that school districts will now be encouraged to purchase certain textbooks published by certain textbook companies. Would any school district dare choose a curriculum that is poorly rated by EdReports? Will the “best” textbooks likely be the most expensive ones? What will happen to funding if a school district chooses books and instructional materials that are not fully aligned with the Common Core – as determined by private nonprofit EdReports?
“It’s looking more likely we are in fact on the road to a nationalized curriculum,” writes Gretchen Logue at Missouri Education Watchdog. “Will we now have a privately owned and Gates funded policing agency to determine what curriculum districts should be using to best align to the privately owned and copyrighted Common Core State Standards?”