It’s hard to envision Bill Gates not getting exactly what he wants, or backing down from anything. However, that was before he became the sugar daddy and primary backer of the Common Core State Standards, which have raised the ire of parents, students and educators in the past year. As Common Core critics began pushing back against adoption of the standards and influencing several state legislatures to cut ties with Common Core, Gates and his foundation found themselves in the unusual position of backpedaling last month.
In a surprising act of damage control, the pro-Core Gates Foundation took to the pages of the New York Times with an open letter calling for a two-year delay in the use of Common Core-linked tests as measures for teacher and student accountability. Gates Foundation director Vickie Philips conceded frustrations with Common Core, writing, “No evaluation system will work unless teachers believe it is fair and reliable. The standards need time to work. Teachers need time to develop lessons, receive more training, get used to the new tests and offer their feedback.”
Of course, educators know those considerations should have been obvious from the beginning, long before states were coerced into adopting the standards, in some cases unseen. For a successful businessman, Gates has been rather negligent in testing, piloting and evaluating an unproven product like Common Core before selling it to an unsuspecting public. Experts in education like Dr. Diane Ravitch know there is a time-honored process to review policies and standards. Bill Gates, however, is far from being an education expert.
He is, instead, a billionaire who believes his wealth and business success qualify him to set education policy.
This isn’t the first time Gates has reversed his position on education after realizing he knows less than he thought he did about how to “fix schools.” Gates poured more than $600 million into his “small schools campaign,” only to later concede he was wrong and the idea was virtually fruitless. While that doesn’t seem to bother a man who can literally waste billions of dollars, it’s more disturbing to hear him admit, “We won’t even know if it will work.” Playing so frivolously with institutions like public education should not be so easy. Clearly, whenever scandal is brewing in politics, it’s always a matter of following the money. And with Common Core, there’s little doubt about the money trail.
Read the whole piece and send it along to your friends and family.
The more people who become aware of the Gates machinations on education, the better.
As Mazenko points out in the piece, this is a guy who spent $600 million on his small schools initiative, then said "Whoops! That didn't work! We'll move on to our next great idea - the Common Core!"
Public education and public schools should NOT be playthings for a billionaire who wants to try out his theories.