By Valerie Candelaria
“Gates-Led” effort, not “State-Led” (seems more appropriate) – the Gates Foundation has been pursuing the goal of national standards, even global standards, for many years. Given the source, there has been an increased emphasis on “data-driven decision making”, which of course is dependent on technology, data collection systems, digital staff development tools, and digital curriculum.
Since the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are the “face” of the state-led effort, the following results of a very narrowly scoped search causes one to question where their real allegiance resides. Is it with the people back home, or with the hand that feeds them?
Consider the following that our Common Core committee researched from the Gates Foundation website just a few weeks ago. See if the descriptions we found on the grant documents sound familiar.
Gates Foundation Grants
NGA $27,075,001 (2002 -2012) – Fifteen (15) separate grants. Early years through 2005 largely focused on redesigning/transforming our high schools, and improving college readiness, and creating a coherent system of “education pathways” to increase college ready HS graduation rates. To provide technical assistance and develop a “cadre of certified principal trainers” in of the NGA honor states. In December of 2005, the grants began to focus on Early Childhood policy leadership and moved into assisting in the “implementation of Common Core State Standards”.
CCSSO $72,880,019 (2003-2012) – Thirteen (13) separate grants. As far back as 2003, these grants were focused on secondary school reform, promoting the use of web-based data tools, and data-driven decision making. In 2007, the purpose moved to Nat’l Education Data Partnerships, and by early 2009 the focus became standards and assessments, data systems, and educator development…. inc luding the development of longitudinal data standards. Recent years (since 2011) grants have been focused on marketing and impact stragegies, CCSS sustainability, and strategic planning for the two (2) state consortia to design the assessments.
Colleges and Universities $26,106,782 (2011-2013) – Seventeen (17) separate grants. To plan and prototype tools for … teacher professional development, college readiness indicator systems, online gaming for academic tenacity, measurement tools to analyize learning outcomes, to develop a field of learning analyitics and education data mining, and FACT (“Formative Assessment with Computational Technologies”) which provides information about student’s performance during learning activites (See Feb’13 Grit Report).
Other $127,552,787 (2008 -2013) – Sixty-eight (68) separate grants. Includes state school boards, unions (NEA, AFT), and the PTA for public relations & advocacy, and other foundations for implementation & curriculum development. We didn’t see Idaho’s state board, but this is sufficient evidence to prove that these efforts and endorsements are not without influence or coercion.
Is there any doubt about who the big winner is in this education reform program? In fact, listen to the words of Bill Gates as he addressed the National Conference of State Legislators in 2009:
“When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well – and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better.”