It’s begun. The School Board of Cobb County, Georgia, where I live, just voted (5-1-1) to purchase math books (print and digital) aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). McGraw-Hill books will be purchased for K-8, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for high school. The cost for these CCSS math books: $7 million. This translates into about $64 per student for the 109,760 students in the district. The estimated cost of supplying all students in Georgia with new math books would be about $102 million.
American education is poised to embody a one-size fits all model of curriculum. We know that Arne Duncan claims that the Common Core Standards is not a curriculum. The curriculum is what is taught in classrooms, and because most states have agreed to a single set of math and English/Language Arts standards, the curriculum in classrooms will be immensely affected by the CCSS. Coupled with standardized tests that are being rolled out this year by two U.S. Department of Education funded groups, teachers will have little say in what the real curriculum will be because the same standardized test scores will be used to check their teaching effectiveness, and decide their employment.
In this post, I am going to report on those organizations that were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to make the Common Core State Standards a reality.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made at least 164 grants to at least 125 organizations to support CCSS development and implementation. I should also point out that the U.S. Department of Education is just as responsible for these standards, as Gates and the groups mentioned in this post. You see when the Duncan department of education rolled out the Race to the Top, it insisted that states would stand a better chance of being funded is they signed on to the Common Core State Standards, and mandated the use of student test scores as a measure of teacher performance.
Then, to put the last nail on the coffin, the Gates Foundation provided consulting and writing help to states submitting proposals to the Race to the Top fund, especially during the second round of funding. Georgia was a winner. It got about $400 million, and it received help from the Gates Foundation.
These events made it possible for Achieve Inc., the developer of the CCSS to manage the development of the standards, and to work with many organizations, especially with the financial support of the Gates Foundation, to get the ball rolling.
The Top 20
The top 20 recipients give a window into the way the Gates Foundation is influencing K-12 education in American schools. The movement to set up one set of learning objectives for all students is the essence of the Common Core. These organizations are a Who’s Who of the corporate reform effort in which “big money” is being used to change the public landscape of education, into a market-place.
In America’s “race to common standards,” Figure 1 shows the top 20 organizations that have collaborated with the Gates Foundation to make sure that every child in the U.S. learns the same stuff in math, reading, and language arts. The Common Core State Standards provide a common set of performances from which tests, texts, and online programming will be developed by private firms to be sold to public schools.
Top 20 Winners of Gates Common Core Grants
Here is the listing of the top 20 award winners in the Gates Foundation common core competition. The links take you inside the Gates Foundation directly to one of the funded grants of these organizations. You will find a link to the organization at that webpage. As you read through and explore the top 20, note the emphasis on charter schools and teacher assessment in the context of the common core.
- Council of Chief State School Officers $83,556,782. Co-developers of the Common Core at a meeting in Chicago in 2009. They and the NGS charged Achieve with the task of writing common standards in math and English/language arts.
- New Visions for Public Schools, Inc $70,454,721 New Visions received funds to support the Common Core/Career and College initiative effort designed to improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness through key strategies. New Visions is a major charter school developer in New York, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Seattle.
- New Venture Fund $67,579,460. Their recent grant (more than $10 million) was to support successful implementation of the common core
- Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc. $52,686,431. One of their grants from the Gates Foundation was to partner with other foundations to support a project fund supporting state-led efforts aligning higher education placement requirements with college readiness assessments developed through the Common Core assessment consortia.
- Achieve Inc $36,708,822. An organization founded by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State Officers in 1996. In 2008 it begins work on “college- and career ready standards in partnership with NGA, and CCSS, and with funding from the Gates Foundation.
- Charter Fund Inc dba Charter School Growth Fund $33,012,000. Gates’ funding is used to support high-performing charter school management organizations that are implementing effecting teaching systems and the Common Core State Standards in collaboration with districts.
- Colorado Legacy Foundation $22,803,487. Much of the funding to this group is used to carry out and sustain teacher evaluation systems.
- Kentucky Department of Education $12,954,380 Grants offer support to the Kentucky Department of Education related to implementation of the Common Core State Standards & teacher development and evaluation systems.
- Council Of The Great City Schools $11,962,004. This urban school organization has received Gates Foundation grants to help member school districts to align implementation of the Common Core State Standards with their reform efforts in teacher effectiveness and prepare for new PARCC and SBAC online assessments
- James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy Foundation, Inc. $11,450,814. The grants are used to support states in their continued implementation of the Common Core State Standards. At the Hunt Website, is this phrase: “The Hunt Institute is a strategic catalyst for transforming public education and securing our country’s future.” The question is, whose future?
- American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation $11,343,925. To support teacher development and Common Core State Standards
- Khan Academy Inc. $10,544,028. The Gates Foundation grew the company into a massive supplier of videos to develop the remaining K-12 math exercises to make sure full coverage of the Common Core math standards and form a small team to carry out a blended learning model.
- Louisiana Department of Education $9,562,308. Grant funds are used to give organizational support to the Louisiana Department of Education related to implementation of the Common Core State Standards & teacher development and evaluation systems.
- Scholastic Inc. 6,738,498. Funds are used to support teachers’ implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics.
- Thomas Fordham Foundation. $6,711,462. Grants are used for general operating support, to track state progress towards implementation of standards.
- Student Achievement Partners Inc $6,533,350. Grants are used to support teachers nationwide in understanding and implementing the Common Core State Standards.
- The Aspen Institute Inc $5,189,948. The Aspen Institute has received more than $50 million from the Gates Foundation with about 10% being devoted to k-12 education.
- The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education $4,584,177. Grants support the attendance of Master Teachers at the NEA’s Empowered Educators conference and give an opportunity for these educators to share their learnings and leadership experiences related to the Common Core.
- BetterLesson, Inc. $3,527,240. Funding to support the development of courses, aligned to the Common Core State Standards, for the purposes of helping teacher’s transition to common core and increasing their students’ ability to master the content.
- MetaMetrics, Inc. 3,468,005. Grants fund the further development an interactive, online tools that focus on literacy in the Common Core State Standards
In this report, 126 organizations received funding from the Gates Foundation to support various aspects of the common core. However, a good deal of the funding went directly to charter management companies, and organizations that support the development of charter schools. There is also funding to use student assessments (of the common core) to evaluate teacher performance. Organizations received on average more than $4.4 million.
Figure 2 is a Pie Chart summary of the funding noting emphasizing the top five Common Core organizations.
What do you think about the Common Core?