Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Following the Common Core Money Trail

By Pat Murray

When you hear of Common Core, you often don't stop to think about the fact that without huge amounts of money Common Core would only be another plan to "fix" the American education system that remained on the drawing board. Either directly or indirectly, most of the funding for Common Core will come from taxpayers. You should know that there are other sources as well.

This appeared in the New York Times on May 21, 2011 and here are a few excerpts:

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which developed the standards, and Achieve Inc., a nonprofit organization coordinating the writing of tests aligned with the standards, have each received millions of dollars.

The Alliance for Excellent Education, another nonprofit organization, was paid $551,000 in 2009 “to grow support for the common core standards initiative,” according to the tax filings. The Fordham Institute got $959,000 to “review common core materials and develop supportive materials.” Scores of newspapers quoted Fordham’s president, Chester E. Finn Jr., praising the standards after their March 2010 release; most, including The New York Times, did not note the Gates connection.

In 2010, the foundation gave $500,000, to the Foundation for Educational Excellence, founded by Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida.

Then a string of Gates-backed nonprofit groups worked to promote legislation across the country: at least 20 states, including New York, are now designing new evaluation systems.

“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

In this 2011 article about Jeb Bush, note his organization Chief's for Change. Chiefs for Change is a program operated by the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Stephen Bowen, Commissioner of the Maine DOE is an active member and all in for Common Core. The nonprofit group received contributions of $2.9 million in 2009, from the foundations of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, among others including for-profit education technology companies.

You may not have heard of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Sourcewatch states that in November 2011, the Gates Foundation made a $376,635 grant to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which it claims was "to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement. Here is the odd thing. This grant was awarded to ALEC shortly after their Education Task Force overwhelmingly voted to approve an anti-Common Core sample bill to be distributed to the states. After receiving the grant, the Board of Directors tabled the recommendation and then killed it.

There has been a lot of money spread around since these articles first appeared so I'll have more on this later.

The old saying, "Money talks" still applies!


Pat Murray of Bradford, Maine is a founding member of NCCM. He is also a co-founder of the Maine Coalition for World Class Math and a former member of the school board in MSAD 64.

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