Gates Foundation Cheers the Growing “Momentum” of Common Core

Diane Ravitch’s blog: A site to discuss better education for all, 1/31/14. See original for links.

The Gates Foundation has spent $200 million or so to pay for the Common Core standards. Gates paid for everything because the U.S. Department of Education is prohibited by law from doing anything that might control, direct,or supervise curriculum or instruction. Of course, this did not stop Arne Duncan from shelling out $350 million to pay for new online tests of the Common Core. The tests will certainly influence, direct, and control curriculum and instruction, which is expressly forbidden. But why quibble over the law?

As you read on, recall that Gates paid for everything: the writing, development, evaluation, implementation, and promotion of the Common Core. There are very few education advocacy groups that have not received millions from Gates.

Now Vicki Phillips, who directs the education program at Gates, has written an article to remind us–in case the PR machine is offline–why we desperately need Common Core, why teachers and other educators are warmly embracing it, and how wildly popular it is. She admits that she is baffled by people who call on states and districts to slow down, stop or reverse this wonderful progress. Maybe that refers to Randi Weingarten and the teachers of New York.

One thing is clear, if inadvertently. The standards and the testing are portrayed as integral to states’ ability to evaluate teachers by test scores. All the pieces fit together. You are not supposed to have just the standards, you must have the whole package. That is the Gates Foundation’s vision.

Phillips is obviously unsettled by the controversies erupting in state after state, from left and right, about the standards and the tests. But she does not mention of the public hearings in New York, where thousands of parents berated the Common Core. The foundation seems to be in denial about the pushback against its prize program, the linchpin of wholesale change.

Common Core, she assures us, will get all students ready for college. But how does she know that? What if Common Core creates the results nationally that it did in New York, where only 3% of English learners passed? Where only 5% of students with disabilities passed? Where more than 80% of African American and Hispanic students failed? What if most students can’t clear the bar that the Gates Foundation raised so high? What will our society do with the many students who give up or fail? Will the Gates Foundation tell us what to do to help them? And when everyone goes to college, will the college diploma be devalued? Will there be jobs for them, or will they be truck drivers and retail clerks with a diploma and a load of college debt?

Just wondering.

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