The New York Times Buries the Real Story on Common Core

The New York Times posed this question in a recent story about the effects of Common Core in the 10 years since it was introduced: Did it fail, or does it just need more time to succeed? The easy answer is that Common Core was, is, and will remain a cancer on the American education system. But it’s an answer that has a lot of moving parts — mostly money changing hands.

The Times article immediately gets it wrong in stating Common Core was rolled out by a bipartisan group of governors, education experts, and philanthropists. There may be a kernel of truth to that with respect to how many people and organizations stood to gain from the roll-out, but it doesn’t paint the entire picture.

“Governors” actually refers to the National Governors Association (NGA), a private entity made up of current and former governors, and current and former gubernatorial staff members. It is funded in part by membership dues ($4.2 million, FY ‘18), but the majority of funding comes from foundation and government grants ($15.6 million, FY ‘18). Corporate partners include Intel, Pearson Education and American Institute for Research (AIR), among many others.

The NGA, with millions of dollars in grants, partnered with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a non-profit organization of state school leaders. The marrying of the organizations produced Achieve Inc., a non-profit education reform organization that, without going too far into the weeds, was instrumental in the development of the standards.

Intel, as noted above, gives generously to the NGA, and Intel’s then-CEO Craig Barrett was named co-Chairman of Achieve, Inc. Barrett currently serves on the Board of Directors.

Additionally, the Times article refers to “education experts,” or, in reality, Student Achievement Partners (SAP), founded by Jason Zimba, David Coleman, and Susan Pimental. Several years earlier, Coleman had joined forces with Gene Wilhoit, then director of CCSSO, and began kicking around the idea of national standards. SAP was born, and Coleman and Zimba went on to be two of the lead writers on the project. Neither had any experience writing standards, much less had ever taught or spent any significant time in a K-12 classroom.

In 2011, Coleman spoke at the Institute for Learning Senior Leadership Meeting. He said, regarding SAP, “…One is we’re composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards.” In 2010, Zimba admitted the math standards don’t provide an adequate mathematics education.

The list of philanthropists who were involved in the roll-out of the standards can be whittled down to one: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Coleman and Wilhoit needed money to move forward with their industrious plan, so they went to one of the richest men in the world. In short, Gates funded the Common Core with more than $400 million dollars. $34 million of that went directly to the NGA, $60 million to CCSSO and $46 million to Achieve, Inc. SAP also benefited from Gates’ money to the tune of about $21 million.

Bill Gates knew little to nothing about education policy. What he did understand was the manipulative power of money, and that people would do a lot of things to get their hands on it. The federal government understood that as well.

The Times article reported that the government “offered” states funding to accept the standards. Yes, there was money involved, but it was more akin to a hostage situation. In a nutshell, the federal government used money already earmarked for states under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create a competition between the states for access to the money — a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. The competition required adopting the Common Core Standards.

The federal government offered nothing. In return, it pulled off the largest educational upheaval in American history.

The government and Bill Gates weren’t the only ones leveraging cash to get what they wanted. NGA corporate partners, noted above, also had skin in the game. For example, at the time Pearson was the largest education company, and it remains the largest publishing company in the world.

Pearson has raked in untold billions of dollars publishing Common Core aligned textbooks and digital content. In 2014, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) awarded Pearson the extremely lucrative contract to create their standards-aligned assessment. At about the same time, a former CCSSO president joined the Board of Directors at PARCC.

American Institute for Research (AIR), noted above, has also made a small fortune writing Common Core aligned assessments. Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon have profited handsomely by stocking schools with hardware, digital content and other online tools.

Yet, a decade later, state assessment results are stagnant, NAEP scores are declining, and PISA scores show no progress in math or reading. Joy Pullmann, executive editor of The Federalist, reported that the class of 2019, the first to experience all four high school years under Common Core, was the worst-prepared for college in 15 years.

Common Core was never about education. It was never about improving achievement. It was never about making children college-ready. It was and always will be about the money.

The Times article suggests that maybe this wildly unpopular and ineffective experiment just needs more time. The results are in. American students have fallen too far behind. Time’s up.

Lisa Hudson is a founding member of Arizonans Against Common Core and an advocate of classical Christian education and the protection of student privacy. She graduated from Michigan State University School of Law in 1996 and is an active member of the State Bar of Michigan.

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  2. Ann Reply

    The purpose of Common Core via Obama is indoctrination into global IslamoMarxism.

    Pearson is owned by the Saudis, and pro-islamomarxist ideology is thru out the curriculum. Even the conversion statement is in Pearson Standard testing.

    Wish ppl actually saw the evil behind CC.

  3. Tracie Smith Reply

    If our education system was using Abeka, a Christian curriculum, written and developed in Pensacola, FL, our kids would be so far aheadvofbother countries academically. But, hey, lets not make our kids smarter, lets just cower to the muslims because of money. Once again, our education system is, in essence, sacrificing our childrens’ minds for a pay out. I truly pray that President Trump can do something to just, in one stroke of a pen, erase common core/essa.

  4. Timmy Mac Reply

    While the cash was nice, the NCLB waivers were far more coveted than money.

  5. Edward C. Davenport Reply

    The rise of the BDS movement on campuses throughout North America coupled with mass immigration to the West from countries where institutionalized anti-Semitism is the norm, have put several continents on a dangerous trajectory.

    According to Francis Kallifat of CRIF, a group which represents French Jews, there are practically no Jews enrolled in public schools in Paris. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, a former prep school principal stated that he denied a transfer request from the principal of a Jewish school out of concern that the student would be “beaten to a pulp.”

    As the Muslim population increased in France, so did calls for a more “positive” view of Islam in school textbooks. The Ministry of National Education obliged by eliminating any reference to centuries of enslavement, stoning and amputations. In the last fifteen years, one-tenth of the French Jewish population have fled France, and those who remain are “advised to walk in groups, never alone.”

    Major news organizations have an explanation for the wave of anti-Semitism: the “Far Right” has been “energized” by President Trump’s “rhetoric.”

    B’nai Brith Canada’s League of Human Rights National Director, Amanda Hohmann, undercut any such claim when she pointed out the months immediately before and after the U.S. Presidential election “actually saw a relative decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, in relation to previous years.”

    In April, Hamas official Fathi Hamad offered to provide explosive-filled vests to suicide-bombers as he called on jihadists worldwide to “attack every Jew on the planet.”

    While such blood-curdling echoes of Nazi Germany go unreported and unchallenged by the media, major news organizations routinely gloss over or ignore persecution of Christians in majority-Muslim countries. Worldwide, 4,136 Christians were martyred in 2018. Fearful of offending Muslim sensibilities, the deaths went largely unreported. When a Boko Haram death squad gunned down 23 Christians returning from a funeral in Nigeria earlier this year, major news organizations simply ignored the story.

    Mainstream media outlets accuse Trump of speaking in coded language – a “dog whistle” -only their editorial boards can hear. When President Trump speaks of “global financial powers,” for example, it’s shorthand for “Jewish bankers.” If the average person were to tell a psychiatrist the president was speaking in a code only they and a few others could understand, they would likely be medicated.

    Could educational material funded by majority-Arab countries traditionally hostile to Jews and un-restricted mass-immigration of large numbers of people hostile to Jews, not Trump’s “rhetoric” account for the alarming increase in antiemetic hate incidents?

    Jews have been harassed, shouted-down, even physically assaulted on university campuses. In Australia, where harassment of Jews has become the norm, school officials refused to take action against a Muslim student who bullied a 12-year-old Jewish classmate into kissing his feet, because the incident occurred in a public park. Canary Mission, a Jewish “watchdog” group, has documented hundreds of hateful Twitter comments targeting Jewish students by Muslim Students’ Association and Students for Justice in Palestine, yet action is rarely, if ever, taken against the harassing parties.

    Why are Muslim groups getting a “free pass?”

    I am compelled to the conclusion that the answer is the $1,478,676,069 (U.S. Department of Education figures) U.S. universities and colleges have received in the form of monetary gifts from Qatar. In April 2016, Israeli political leader Tzipi Livini was interrupted during a speech at Harvard University by a Muslim student commenting that she was “smelly.” Far from calling-out the student for his manifest rudeness, Harvard did everything in its ability to protect his identity, lest they offend their generous benefactors in Qatar.

  6. Mary holt Reply

    This is a disgrace to all people any thing that takes line after lines to get an answer, when in the old way is just one,this thing is wrong, get it out of all of our schools! It’s more dumbing down of America!

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