Word to the wise, Secretary Duncan, want to make even MORE people suspicious of Common Core? Try the federal government strong-arm. You're only giving them more to work with. From Yahoo News:
Duncan had ominous words for states that buck the Common Core trend.
“We partner with states whether they’re in Common Core or have their own high standards. But where we will challenge status quo is when states dummy down standards,” he warned.
End of update.
Update: the NY Times is reporting the Gates Foundation has "called" for a two-year moratorium on states making any "high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned to the new standards." Well, that's big of them considering THEY have caused this rush to new standards and testing. The letter from the Gates Foundation is laughable in how long overdue it is. They are feeling the heat from the debate sweeping the nation.
End of update.
Required reading in the Washington Post by Lyndsey Layton called, "How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution."
Common Core would NEVER be where it is today if not for Bill Gates.
The result was astounding: Within just two years of the 2008 Seattle meeting, 45 states and the District of Columbia had fully adopted the Common Core State Standards.
And yet, because of the way education policy is generally decided, the Common Core was instituted in many states without a single vote taken by an elected lawmaker. Kentucky even adopted the standards before the final draft had been made public.
Whenever you hear about "powerful" teachers unions, please understand - that power and money from millions of hard-working teachers is dwarfed by the millions spent by Gates, Waltons and the Koch brothers.
Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration.
What did Gates have to say?
Gates grew irritated in the interview when the political backlash against the standards was mentioned.
“These are not political things,” he said. “These are where people are trying to apply expertise to say, ‘Is this a way of making education better?’ ”
Really? If it's not political, why go through the Governors Association to get this done? I think Mr. Gates believes all the adults in the U.S. are naive children who can't possibly look behind the curtain.
Gates is disdainful of the rhetoric from opponents. He sees himself as a technocrat trying to foster solutions to a profound social problem — gaping inequalities in U.S. public education — by investing in promising new ideas.
Gates has said that one of the benefits of common standards would be to open the classroom to digital learning, making it easier for software developers — including Microsoft — to develop new products for the country’s 15,000 school districts.
In February, Microsoft announced that it was joining Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, to load Pearson’s Common Core classroom materials on Microsoft’s tablet, the Surface.
Jay P. Greene, head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, says the Gates Foundation’s overall dominance in education policy has subtly muffled dissent.
“Really rich guys can come up with ideas that they think are great, but there is a danger that everyone will tell them they’re great, even if they’re not,” Greene said.
So what did Gates do (this is only a partial excerpt):
With the Gates money, the Hunt Institute coordinated more than a dozen organizations — many of them also Gates grantees — including the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council of La Raza, the Council of Chief State School Officers, National Governors Association, Achieve and the two national teachers unions.
The Hunt Institute held weekly conference calls between the players that were directed by Stefanie Sanford, who was in charge of policy and advocacy at the Gates Foundation. They talked about which states needed shoring up, the best person to respond to questions or criticisms and who needed to travel to which state capital to testify, according to those familiar with the conversations.
The Hunt Institute spent $437,000 to hire GMMB, a strategic communications firm owned by Jim Margolis, a top Democratic strategist and veteran of both of Obama’s presidential campaigns. GMMB conducted polling around standards, developed fact sheets, identified language that would be effective in winning support and prepared talking points, among other efforts.
Later in the process, Gates and other foundations would pay for mock legislative hearings for classroom teachers, training educators on how to respond to questions from lawmakers.
Oh, wait a minute. GMMB? Why that's Frank Greer's company. The same Frank Greer who is behind-the-scenes mover and shaker and just happens to live in Seattle.
What about the Obama administration?
There was so much cross-pollination between the foundation and the administration, it is difficult to determine the degree to which one may have influenced the other.
Several top players in Obama’s Education Department who shaped the administration’s policies came either straight from the Gates Foundation in 2009 or from organizations that received heavy funding from the foundation.
And his own children?
Bill and Melinda Gates, Obama and Arne Duncan are parents of school-age children, although none of those children attend schools that use the Common Core standards. The Gates and Obama children attend private schools, while Duncan’s children go to public school in Virginia, one of four states that never adopted the Common Core.
Still, Gates said he wants his children to know a “superset” of the Common Core standards — everything in the standards and beyond.
Don't we all, Bill, don't we all.
A group calling itself the “Badass Teachers Association,” citing opposition to what it considers market-based education reform, plans a June 26 protest outside the Gates Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle.
I met many of these teachers at the Network for Public Education conference earlier this year. Expect this to be a loud protest from some very energetic teachers.
I know some of you may wonder why I keep updating Common Core. "Isn't it a done deal?"
Hardly. As I reported last week, three more states have changed their minds and said no to Common Core (that would be Oklahoma, North Carolina, and South Carolina). The wave of news, opinion, and yes, change across the country continues. I suspect we may be hearing/doing more in Washington State in the next 18 months.
In our state there is Ready Washington which is a booster group for Common Core. It includes OSPI and the State Board of Education as well as the Washington State School Directors Association and the Association of Washington School Principals. That's all fine but then you have the Partnership for Learning (which is a state business group's non-profit for pushing their ed reforms), Stand for Children, LEV, DFER and hey, look who regrouped, The Parents Union (their new website is very funny).
So naturally, this group is very pro-Common Core. But they, too, must be experiencing the backlash of Common Core so recently the Partnership for Learning conducted a survey about Common Core. It was pretty amusing as the questions were high-level vague. As a smart person, Robert Cruickshank, tweeted to me, "Do you like pie? I like pie, too." (See #4 .) Do you like standards for children in public education? No kidding, me, too.
I mean, most people in Washington state STILL have not heard of Common Core (54%). What's quite interesting is that this is being pushed as state-wide and when I tweeted, "The polling is skewed to the West (not to the East where pushback would be more likely)," they tweeted back, "Support was 67% in Eastern WA. 3 regions surveyed. Poll was demographically representative of the state."
Well, their own numbers - on page 8 of the survey - say, "King county 29%, Western 49% and Eastern 22%." I haven't used either enVision or MIF but my math education tells me that nearly 80% of the support was in Western Washington, not Eastern. Never heard a peep back from them about this. Hmmm.
I'll stop here but I have no fewer than 20 stories on my computer about issues around Common Core (including math).