Speaking of millions of dollars, the money behind the Common Core was the topic of a that focused on Microsoft founder Bill Gates' role in the creation of the standards and in encouraging their implementation.
The story detailed how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent some $200 million on the development of the standards, political lobbying, and grants to organizations that now support the Core. (The Gates Foundation is also a longtime supporter of NPR, including its coverage of education.)
Education standards are not a new idea. They've been advocated in the United States at least since the 1950s. But our unique system of highly localized control of public schools with limited federal involvement in education has prevented them from getting much traction on a sustained, national level. Until now.
As the piece, by Lyndsey Layton, details, Gates' money helped unite disparate interests behind a single policy in an incredibly short amount of time.
"The Gates Foundation spread money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups that have clashed in the past but became vocal backers of the standards.What has seemed most troubling for critics of the Core, and of the influence of large philanthropies in U.S. policy generally, is the close association between the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama administration. The Common Core are not, strictly speaking, national standards. They were developed independently of the federal government, and states are not under a mandate to adopt them. But the standards received a big boost in the form of funding incentives from the Obama administration."Money flowed to policy groups on the right and left, funding research by scholars of varying political persuasions who promoted the idea of common standards. Liberals at the Center for American Progress and conservatives affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council who routinely disagree on nearly every issue accepted Gates money and found common ground on the Common Core."
Behind the alignment of interests, the Post article noted several close ties: Margot Rogers, who was Education Secretary Arne Duncan's chief of staff, and James Shelton, now a deputy secretary, both came directly from the foundation. The administration to allow the two of them to consult closely with former colleagues. And Chicago received $20 million in Gates funding to reorganize schools while Duncan was that district's CEO before leaving for his Cabinet position.
We reached out to the foundation yesterday for comment on the article and on the developments in Oklahoma and South Carolina, but didn't hear back.
You can bet they're trying to figure out how to mitigate the damage from the Post story, along with the video interview of Bill Gates himself.
That they aren't ready to comment means they haven't figured out what to do to mitigate the damage.
Gates was trying to promote his side of the policy debate in that Post article.
He ended up doing more work for the anti-Core side by being prickly, arrogant and thin-skinned.
He looked like just what he is - an arrogant wealthy elitist who isn't answerable to anybody.