Bill Gates’ money helped foist Common Core on Indiana

Jul 5, 2014 by

Indiana is no longer alone in abandoning the Common Core academic standards.

Oklahoma and South Carolina are pulling out, and North Carolina is headed for the door as well. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking his state out of the national standards, provoking a conflict with the state’s education superintendent and causing uncertainty about state testing in the fall.

Faced with parental complaints and teacher union criticism, New York almost joined the exodus this spring. Instead the state compromised by keeping Common Core but not tying test results to teacher evaluations.

Parental support for the standards also may be slipping. A national Rasmussen Report survey shows 34 percent support for Common Core among parents with school-age children. That’s quite a drop from 47 percent in November.

The slide in parental support could do more harm to the standards than political losses in state governments.

Part of the problem with Common Core is its origins in money from the Gates Foundation. Bill Gates, in his push for education reform, was persuaded that new national standards could serve as a wake-up call to parents and teachers about America falling behind other countries in student achievement. A flood of Gates money was backed by a wave of federal funds. Testing and publishing companies saw dollar signs and started writing new materials and tests. Common Core became a marketing tool.

But the untested materials were not necessarily better than earlier ones, as parents learned in New York’s rollout this past school year.

The Gates Foundation spent $233 million promoting the Common Core idea, according to Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton. Gates gave grants to liberal and conservative education groups, teacher unions and the U.S. Chamber Commerce. The federal government tied the standards to massive federal aid. The financial push behind Common Core was overwhelming.

The practical problem is that better standards don’t necessarily drive education reform. Layton noted another problem with the Gates money, upsetting the usual checks and balances with new educational theories.

“Usually there’s a pilot test – something is tried on a small scale, outside researchers see if it works, and then it’s promoted on a broader scale,” said Sarah Reckhow, an education policy researcher at Michigan State. “That didn’t happen with Common Core.”

If states continue to pull away from Common Core, the pilot test might still occur. A few states can experiment with Common Core and its tests, and other states like Indiana can come up with something better. The competition could prove much better than a Common Core monopoly on standards and testing.

via Bill Gates’ money helped foist Common Core on Indiana.

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