Will Common Core produce well-educated Americans or indoctrinated pacifist global citizens?
Huffington Post blogger and “Award-Winning Historian and Inner City Teacher” John Thompson cheers this curriculum. So does PBS, as it promotes its educational materials as Common Core compliant, while receiving federal funds and the largesse of Bill Gates.
In her Harvard Educational Review article, “President Obama and Education: The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning,” published in the summer after Bill Ayers had urged her nomination as Secretary of Education, Linda Darling-Hammond waxed on about the Obama administration’s “opportunity to transform our nation’s schools.” Some may remember Obama’s promise to “fundamentally transform America.” Darling-Hammond noted (or warned), “Barack Obama has outlined a set of ambitious plans to transform American education on a scale not seen since the days of the Great Society.”
McGroarty and Robbins note that the Gates Foundation “has poured tens of millions of dollars into organizations that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in the implementation of Common Core.” While the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives to worthy causes like fighting malaria and HIV infection, the foundation’s 2010 IRS documents reveal funding of other, mostly leftist, causes. Gifts went to the Tides Fund, and Planned Parenthood and other “reproductive health” efforts. In education, Gates has given money to teachers unions, La Raza schools, and a school named after Caesar Chavez.
They have given a lot to school districts. After Bill Gates met with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reporter Jaime Sarrio gushed about Gates’ generosity: a $20 million investment in “game-based learning,” technical support in Georgia’s Race to the Top application, a gift of $500,000 for teachers to meet the standards of Common Core, and $10 million for Atlanta public schools’ “Effective Teacher in Every Classroom” program.
Florida schools received a substantial portion of education funding.
In 2010, the Gates Foundation gave millions to a number of developers of “game-based learning” and “digital learning.” Gates is also helping companies that will evaluate teacher effectiveness, like Teachscape. Among Teachscape’s business partners are the testing company ETS and the National Education Association. Teachscape’s founder is on the board of Oracle, a company that advertises itself as teaching “21st century skills.” Oracle donated money to Teachscape. Another business partner of Teachscape, Leaning Forward, will hold a conference in December, sponsored by the Gates Foundation. Presenters will offer their companies’ and their schools’ advice on using technology to implement Common Core. Session topics fall into categories like “Brain-Based Learning” and “Race, Class, Culture, and Learning Differences.”
Gates also gave millions to projects on “data collection” programs that track teacher and student progress.
The Gates Foundation supported efforts to market Common Core through media “education.” The Corporation for Public Broadcasting received half a million dollars to “identify and amplify ‘teacher voice’ to help ensure teachers are in the center of the dialogue on teacher accountability” (nothing for parent or citizen voice, though). NPR received $250,000 “to support coverage of education issues.” The Education Writers Association received $603,900 “to enhance media coverage of high school and post-secondary education by offering seminars and online training for reporters building bridges between mainstream and ethnic community media,” and $23,634 to “support media coverage of the education components of American Recovery and Reconstruction Act.”
The Gates Foundation provided a $489,453 grant to the George Soros/Obama mouthpiece, the Center for American Progress, “to help communicate the importance of education reforms and support progressive states seeking to implement them.” The same year CAP was also awarded $302,680 to “enhance degree completion for low-income young adults through the publishing of new policy papers, stakeholder engagement and media outreach.” Over $1 million was given to the Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week, which is supported by other foundations favoring Common Core. Education Week published the Darling-Hammond article promoting new assessments. Stephen Diamond in an October 9, 2008, blog post complained that Education Week was “whitewashing” Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers in the Annenberg Challenge.
Universities across the country received grants to promote Common Core, as did Boards of Regents. Columbia Teachers College, Ayers’ alma mater, and place of employment for Lucy Calkins, was a major beneficiary.
Gates’ efforts are aligned with the federal government’s, of making reparations, as it were, by allocating money to low-income and minority students and making them “college-ready.” Such allocations are quite frequent in the tax return.
But critics worry that equalization will be achieved by lowering standards. None of the education non-profits funded by Gates are dedicated to raising standards through a rigorous, traditional curriculum, or by promoting Western or American principles. As Heather Crossin and Jane Robbins point out, realistically, the idea of universal college-readiness can be met only by lowering standards. Some Common Core advocates have admitted that this is the case.
* Mary Grabar, Ph.D., is founder of the Dissident Prof Education Project, Inc., which is committed to “resisting the re-education of America.” Sign up for “dispatches” at www.dissidentprof.com. Her other publications can be found at www.marygrabar.com and include Accuracy in Media, PJ Media, Weekly Standard, Minding the Campus, and many others. She teaches English at Emory University.