Americans on all sides have rejected Common Core and expressed resentment for the role of the Gates Foundation in forcing it upon the already declining education system.
Opposition to Common Core has gained such momentum on all sides of the debate, and for various reasons, that major outlets are now telling Bill Gates to butt out of education, and instead go home with his billions.
Salon‘s Michael Mazenko wrote that “Bill Gates needs to drop his Common Core obsession” because he is ‘catching hell on all sides.’ What was a year ago only flack has now festered and erupted to the point that the Gates Foundation is being forced to backpedal and concede to opposition:
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.”
In other words, even Gates knows he’s selling too big of a stinker for people to buy it. (And that’s saying a lot, given some of the operating systems that have been passed off as upgrades…)
That Bill Gates is being forced to back off from Common Core – at all, to any degree – is incredible, given how quickly he and his money were able to force acceptance of these standards in 45 of the 50 states, even despite his abysmally deep pockets and the emphasis on technology as the savior of society in all sectors. Of course, the battle isn’t over, on either side.
Just a little over a week ago, some 150 teachers marched on Seattle, Washington – home to Bill Gates – under the name ‘Badass Teachers Association’ to protest Common Core – and in particular the role of the Gates Foundation in forcing it upon the entire country at the expense of actual learning. Gates issued a generic but rosy statement assuring educators of his respect for teachers.
But that will hardly stop the backlash from parents, students and – perhaps especially – teachers.
Indeed, Common Dreams hailed efforts across the country as “the largest revolt against the use of high-stakes standardized testing in our nations’ history,” with author Jesse Hagopian writing:
Teachers at my own Garfield High School in Seattle refused to administer the district mandated MAP test last year. This year, teachers at Saucedo Elementary were threatened with the revoking of their teaching certificates for refusing to administer a state exam, but have continued in their civil disobedience. Some 33,000 parents in New York State alone have opted their children out of tests in the current school year. Students from Portland to Rhode Island have led rallies and walkouts against the tests.
Back in March, the American Federation of Teachers – a union with some one million members – cut off millions of dollars of funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and terminated their relationship as a result of its members’ fiery disapproval of Common Core standards and “deep distrust of the [Gates] foundation’s approach to education reform.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Bobby Jindal used an executive order to pull Louisiana out of Common Core and the related PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) standards, citing outrage from parents and frustration from teachers and administrators.
Prior to that, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana had already exited from Common Core. According to the Daily Signal, “A total of 17 states have pushed back against Common Core–including Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia, which declined to sign on from the beginning. In Missouri, a bill to exit Common Core currently sits on the governor’s desk for approval.”
The Huffington Post mockingly recommended that Bill Gates replace the inept Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education (to make transparent the gravity of the billionaire’s influence over education policy as it continues to crumble). John Thompson wrote:
“As Ravitch notes, “teachers would be thrilled to see one of the worst Secretaries of Education go away.” But we could get someone worse. If Duncan resigned, President Obama would find another corporate reformer to implement the quirky policy preferences of Gates and the other billionaires.”
“Secretary of Education Gates would have to deal with the litigation that his top-down micromanaging is producing. He, not Arne Duncan, would have to sign orders revoking the NCLB waivers because states don’t fully comply with his testing mandates. Gates would have to testify in congressional hearings on high-stakes testing.”
From a completely different corner than Salon and the Huffington Post, radio host Glenn Beck has launched a mini-movement, asking his audience to join him in a summer offensive against Common Core to declare “We Will Not Conform.” Beck has made Common Core a frequent target for its attempt to amalgamate a federal rather than local approach to education, while undermining the rights of parents in determining what is best for their child’s education.
Glenn Beck told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly:
“You always talk about a culture war, Bill, and that’s really what Common Core is all about. It’s about taking our kids and molding them into good little citizens, how ever the state wants those good little citizens. […] Parents all across the county who are now trying to teach their kids math, trying to help with the homework, they know this is nonsense. Who wants to stop kids from competing in the future? Who wants them not to be able to stand on their own two feet? That’s ridiculous.”
Corporatizing Education with a ‘Uniform,’ Top-down Tech Approach
There are numerous, perhaps never-ending reasons why parents and students, teachers and administrations, state and national political figures, and plenty of other Americans all want Common Core stopped. PJ Media rounded up ten of the worst examples of the insultingly backwards assignments given to students – read them here. Karen Lamoreaux, member of Arkansas Against Common Core and mother of three, explained how one Common Core math problem circumvented all common sense in requiring students to show 108 steps to solve a basic math problem. Another parent said about a dizzying Common Core problem, “I went to elementary school in Poland during communism. This is exactly what I was forced to learn.”
On top of concerns about piss-poor standards and a missing-the-forest-for-the-trees emphasis on testing, and a worrying shift from non-local control to a top-down molding of standards across nearly all the states is the fact that the corporatist overtones – by, for and of the corporate interest – of the Gates-crafted Common Core education plan can hardly be missed.
Behind this inane and ultimately stupid hijacking of American education is one, very rich, individual figure – Bill Gates…
… who is, as many have pointed out, a veritable college drop-out with no expertise or qualifications in education, but instead deep pockets and a honed agenda that is intent on shaping the educational process to produce future citizens that will be subservient cogs in the ever-more-mechanized wheel.
Not only have these new educational guidelines not come from the local and state level, but they were ultimately written by only a handful of (Gates-funded) people. Whose interests could that possibly serve? “No teacher and no school board member was asked to contribute to the Common Core standards. Nor was any State Legislature involved in the creation of this monstrosity.” journalist Dave Hodges wrote.
Anyone see a conflict of interest with, ahem, practically everything?
Gates has major stakes in the corporate agenda, the tech field and the larger political debates surrounding a grab bag of issues: everything from birth control and the over-population debate to vaccines, climate change/global warming, genetically modified foods and Gates/Rockefeller-driven global agriculture and development, health care reform (kill granny; hire 10 teachers, anyone?) and the larger role of self-appointed “experts” and “billionaires” in dictating behavior for everyone living under the collectivist technocracy.
People as a Product
In his own words, Gates’ vision for Common Core is , in part, to unify a captive market in education for computer-based learning tools – i.e., yes, selling stuff to schools who would be required to purchase it as “curriculum” and “teaching aids,” et al. At the National Conference of State Legislatures, Gates said:
“When the tests are aligned to the standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market of people providing services for better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large uniform base of customers looking at using products that can help every kid learn, and every teacher get better.”
Talk about people as a product.
Again, there are many who object to this vision of education, or apparent attempt to direct education tax dollars into corporate coffers.
“We want to get corporations out of teaching,” Tom O’Kelley, an English teacher at Tacoma’s Oakland High School, told Geek Wire. “They are trying to turn public schools into a corporate money maker and push out the voice of teachers like we have no idea what we’re doing in education. Bill Gates certainly doesn’t. He’s a college dropout. He’s a corporate money maker — that’s all he does.”
In Louisiana, St. Martin Parish Superintendent and BESE member Lottie Beebe was quoted on her opposition to Common Core:
“It was developed by non-educators — i.e., test makers — with little or no input from teachers, principals, parents, or experts in child development. It was funded by billionaires like Bill Gates, whose interest is not the welfare of children, and assiduously supported by organizations (CABL, LABI, ALEC, Chamber of Commerce) whose educational expertise is suspect at best.”
Common Dreams reported “The Gates Foundation has used its immense wealth to circumvent the democratic process to create the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with very little input from educators. They in turn quoted :
Because federal law prohibits the federal government from creating national standards and tests, the Common Core project was ostensibly designed as a state effort led by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, a private consulting firm. The Gates Foundation provided more than $160 million in funding, without which Common Core would not exist… According to teacher educator Nancy Carlsson-Paige: “In all, there were 135 people on the review panels for the Common Core. Not a single one of them was a K–3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.” Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.
Beyond lies that Common Core has been “state-led” or “voluntary” is the larger issue that the system being imposed will surely create dullards, group thinkers and obedient corporate drones – not self-sufficient, thinking and intelligent children ready to become leaders, innovators or even thoughtful workers.
At least the teachers, students and parents have been voicing their opposition… and the operating system has been forced to acknowledge it – though surely, the operating system has no intention of relinquishing control. At least, not that easily.