June 8, 2014

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards."

"With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes...."
The movement grew so quickly and with so little public notice that opposition was initially almost nonexistent. That started to change last summer, when local tea party groups began protesting what they viewed as the latest intrusion by an overreaching federal government — even though the impetus had come from the states....

Some liberals are angry, too, with a few teacher groups questioning Gates’s influence and motives. Critics say Microsoft stands to benefit from the Common Core’s embrace of technology and data....

The decision by the Gates Foundation to simultaneously pay for the standards and their promotion is a departure from the way philanthropies typically operate....
Much more at the link.


Big Mike said...

The more I learn about the math part of Common Core, the more I think it is ill-advised, if not downright pathetically stupid.

Jon Burack said...

I will risk danger and comment here in favor of Common Core. That is, the literacy part - I know there is a lot of controversy about the math part, but it's not my area at all.

As to the literacy standards, they are a reasonable collection of charges to promote certain key reading, writing and listening strategies and skills. Without solid, rich and consistent content in a coherent curriculum, they will be of marginal value, but of some value. E.D. Hirsch has the best take on this, which makes sense given he is an inspiration for some of the central thinking. He has reservations however about the absence of the curricular reform I mention, since his stress is on solid content learning and not with skills training apart from that.

As to the ranting on both the right and the left about Commmon Core, it is one of the most ludicrous aspects of the polarized hype of our day. Take your choice. It is either Common Core Communism (according to Glenn Beck et al) forced by Obama on us in his drive to turn us into socialist zombies, or it is Common Core Capitalism foisted by the evil Bill Gates out to destroy public education and privatize all of life. Or in many cases, it is BOTH, if you can figure that out.

Bill Gates may be in this for the money, for all I know. I fail however to see how standards that, say, ask students to assess the evidence backing up a claim in a text (which is what some of them do) will improve his bottom line. The big "debate?" about this is one of the most insane of our age. The many real issues for and against Common Core are of no interest at all, as far as I can see, to the people engaged in that "debate."

Drago said...

This is an outrageous purchasing of politicians and policy across this nation! The Kochs must be stopped from purchasing our......



Oh. Its totally cool and appropriate then.

Seeing Red said...

Oh please, philanthropies with that kind of money do work that way.

Common Core is bs. Whole language is bs phonics should never have been removed from US curriculum.

Birkel said...

Boy, wouldn't it be great if this generation of "Top Men" were able to figure out what the many generations of humans since the founding of civilization have been unable to do: educate people MOST efficiently using a single standard across millions of children.

I'm sure I don't personally have the sort of hubris necessary to believe that about myself. It's a fantastic thing that people like Bill and Melinda Gates do.

I look forward to the recriminations and blame-casting that will surely come in following decades.

Tell me again who thought it a great idea to build housing projects that were supposed to revolutionize and better the conditions of city dwellers. Also, please tell me how that experimentation worked, who took the blame for any failures and how those who were the victims of any failures were able to recoup what was lost.


Diogenes of Sinope said...

The professional educators at the school district and state levels who are in charge of public schools are perfectly able to develop curricula. Common core is just another step in centralizing government and increasing the power the federal government. But then it is supported by the same people who believe federal bureaucrats should decide what our children eat so it's not surprising.

chuck said...

Given that central planning and the schools of education have reduced US education to a pile of steaming crap, I'd argue for less central planning. There are already good materials out there from the Khan Academy, Saxon Math, and others: texts and courses developed for home schooling. Time an money would be better spent encouraging that line of development with its greater vitality and more varied approaches.

holdfast said...

I am no expert, but from what I've seen, it's not the "core" standards of Common Core that are the big problem, but rather the politicized and/or incompetent implementation at the state and district level.

I mean, even Glenn Beck couldn't make this sh*t up:

Interim Superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam was set to talk with administrators to “assure that any references to the holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken on any current or future Argumentative Research assignments,” a statement from district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri read.


It's become clear that, even if it is at heart a good ideal, CC is being rolled out half-assed and totally unpolished. Which is apparently the way the Federal Government does everything these days.

holdfast said...

Now, if I were a suspicious sort, I might note that this whole mess looks like a giant opportunity for the textbook publishers to make a mint supplying books to schools that have been forced to replace all of their materials.

Hagar said...

I have for some time wondered if Melinda Gates may not be the most dangerous person in the USA.

holdfast said...

It doesn't help when this is what stundents bring home:


Or to have Arme Duncan lambasting the only demographic of public shool parents who actually give a crap:


lemondog said...

re: Gates benefits from CC, if Gates benefits, society also benefits when we have a reasonably educated populace. Employers cannot compete if they cannot find literate people to hire.

Not a fan of central planning or one size fits all and don’t know if CC is the answer

Anonymous said...

The Gates Foundation is very data-driven, and quite focused on solving basic human problems. At its worst, it looks like rich man's science driven secular humanist missionary work, attracting all kinds of rent-seekers who in the long run, I'm guessing will bend all that money to their own aims.

For now, it has saved millions of lives with smart solutions.

I suspect Gates saw the often sorry state of public ed, and wanted to invest smart time and money into practical solutions.

Education's been in a bad way due to a lot of larger forces at work.

We'll see what happens with this attempt, but hey, I welcome it.

jr565 said...

I have never had a problem with standardized tests. So, i was a little incredulous when my conservative friends with kids were so vociferously agianst Common Core. Sounded like a good idea at the time.
Then I saw how they were having kids do math which seemed baffling.

I honestly don't have an opinion on it except to say teach kids math the right way. If I had kids I'd probably give more than two sh*ts.

Darleen said...

Common core math came to my twin grandsons' 5th grade class last year.

Total absolute mindnumbing crap.

I was a whiz at math, tutored all my daughters through school including algebra.

The worksheets the boys brought him were/are incomprehensible and guaranteed to frustrate kids and make them hate math.

Bug or feature?

I'm Full of Soup said...

I was surprised to learn Common Core requires annual tests of every school grade. That is overkill and the testing companies are making mucho money if that is true.

Annual testing of only a few grades [let's say grades 4, 8 and 11] should be sufficient and adequate to assess how a school is doing.

ken in tx said...

I have a teaching certificate in Industrial Technology, and Secondary Social Studies. I have taught sixth through tenth grade students. However, teaching was my second career. I got out of it because the Education Establishment is full of BS. Core Curriculum just looks like more of the same.

BobJustBob said...

They already know what works and what doesn't. It was called Project Follow Through. Decades long and millions of dollars to find out what worked and didn't.

And the results were ignored because the Education Mafia liked their fads better.

Turns out real teaching is hard where as this years fad was more fun for the teacher.

Drago said...

Darleen: "Bug or feature?"


Think of it as our mathematics "post-modern" equivalent to what the left has done to literature and philosophy.

They've deconstructed everything.

They have sought, and continue to seek, the complete obliteration of anything that can be deemed objective truth.

They have to. Since they, the left, are so astonishingly full of crap.

If you have time, take a moment to review Alan Sokal's takedown of these morons.

And then remember that it's these very folks who long ago completely captured the academy.

Gahrie said...

I really wish Gates would stop spending money on education fads, and give Elon Musk a couple of billion dollars to play around with.

Carol said...

If the state education boards weren't so dependent on federal $$$$ then this wouldn't be an issue. They could take CC or leave it.

That's the real scandal...states' utter and craven reliance on federal largesse.

The Godfather said...

You'd think a billionaire could come up with a more marketable name. Common? Core? I'd be against it even if I knew nothing about it. How about "Edsel Education" instead?

Seeing Red said...

Zuckerberg went against the teachers union and lost. It makes sense he wants to keep importing engineers, he knows Americans education will be crap, but the $120 mil in Danegeld must be paid.

Anonymous said...

I ended up doing some work on a project the Foundation funded (not CC). The experience there does not give me confidence that CC is the best vehicle for education reform. I'm not saying it can't be an improvement, but my experience with the non-profit world makes me think that nobody benefits more than consultants and experts when big money is thrown around. Big business too if the amount of "common core" materials I've seen purchased in recent years are any indication.

What I don't get is why we always have to be looking for something new in education reform. Rote may be boring, but there's evidence it works in many other contexts, from driving to athletics to manual skills. It's how I always tutored people in math - I would explain the procedure and walk them through it once, then have them do similar problems over and over. When they got stuck, I'd ask them questions to help them think through the problem. It's not fun, but once the lightbulb finally went on, the looks on some of their faces was worth more than whatever money I made doing it.

Walter S. said...

There is a lot to like in the Common Core, and most of its proponents are well intentioned. But there are also elements of centralized testing and control that have attached themselves to the movement, and that is what the opponents are reacting against.

(That and some silliness by advocates who think they are the first ones ever to think of emphasizing principles, engaging students, etc.)

How about it, reformers? Will you promote your reforms on their merits, without letting Federal funds be allocated based on adherence to them? Then both the tea party and the hard left will love you again.