Common Core – Cash Cow

Cronyism & Collusion

The same businesses involved in developing the systems and materials for “Common Core” are involved in the process of creating the education system to which their products are uniquely aligned. And then when the federal government supports and promotes a “common” set of standards and a “common” set of data systems and uses federal taxpayer dollars to entice states to do things their way, our tenth amendment rights are further eroded.  As more states align, adopt, adapt, embrace or snuggle up (whatever they want to call it) to “Common Core”, the less choice we as parents have. And the less choice teachers, uh, I  mean, the human capital,  have to personalize their classrooms to meet the needs of the unique students, oops, I mean, products,  entering their classrooms each year.

An example of how this all works can be found in the new teacher evaluation system being implemented in PA. As stated in the Corbett administration’s application for the “No Child Left Behind”waiver: [emphasis mine]

“Pennsylvania began transforming its accountability for effective educators in 2010 using an $800,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Now in its third and final pilot phase, and with the passage of Act 82 of 2012, all teachers, principals, and specialists will have equitable access to high quality professional development resources designed to support the requirement that 50% of the evaluation is based on multiple measures of student performance. The other 50% of their evaluation is based on a rubric designed to identify strengths and needs associated with their professional practices.

Well, how else would we develop a world-class human pipeline, which is the term our government uses to describe teachers and education support staff as discussed in a letter the PDE sent to school districts explaining the Race to the Top Phase 2 program requirements:

The equitable tool PA chose to evaluate the effectiveness of the  “human pipeline” of education is called the Danielson Framework. And coincidentally, Teachscape, the company PA will use to “train the trainer” on this new framework, was named exclusive digital provider of the Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument.  From Teachscape’s website:

“Charlotte Danielson has made several enhancements to the Framework that make the new instrument, the Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument, more practical and easier to use for teacher evaluation while maintaining its integrity as a tool for teacher training and professional development. The new enhancements stem from work done on the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

And one of Teachscape’s partners is … The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

$800,000 may not seem like a lot in government money, but when it’s followed up with $50+ million from the Race to the Top ‘Early Learning Challenge’ grant award, which was a joint venture between Fed Ed and Dept of Health and Human Services, and another $40+ million from the third round of Race to the Top, both grants emanating from the stimulus stash, then it sure is. Especially when the coveted “flexibility” in No Child Left Behind is tacked on to the deal. All this generosity comes with “strings attached.”

Ryan Bannister of Pennsylvanians Against Common Core does an excellent job exposing the millions that Bill Gates via his foundation has been throwing millions around in PA to promote Common Core, not only to our state government, but “non-profit” organizations as well.  If you attend any of the Common Core hearings in Harrisburg, the name Joan Benso should be familiar. She is President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and coincidentally her organization received nearly $1 million from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core. She is always there to extol the virtues of Common Core “for the children” of course. And Thomas Gluck (Ms. Benso’s husband. ) is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units and has received nearly $2 million to support and promote Common Core. If you are not familiar with the system of IU’s circulating around the state of PA, they have been instrumental in pushing the “Common Core way” into our school districts. Each “IU,” as they’re called, represents certain areas of the state, which has been divided up into regions supported by the IU’s.

When this happens in the real world, it’s called conflict of interest. But it seems the same rules don’t apply to these elitist and cronies in and around government.

Mercedes Schneider has an excellent five-part series that audits the Common Core money trail. Yes, it took a five-part series to detail it all. And yet, Common Core proponents implicate the Koch Brothers or talk radio in much of the anti-Common Core movement. Back and forth the media sites go. Gates – Koch Brothers – Waltons – Heritage – Fordham. Blah blah blah. As if, we’re supposed to just pick a side and stick with it because it’s “our” group promoting it.

Well intentioned or not, the ends do not justify the means. And whether the non-profit organization is backed by Billy Gates or Billy Graham is not really the point here. Either one of these private individuals could have created their own private schools and found parents willing (how about “for thee but not for me” political elites) to subject their children to experimental teaching strategies and technology, data tracking and all the rest.  If it turned out to be such a great model for education, it might catch on, but, then again, it might prove to be an unmitigated disaster like the Blue Man Group school in New York City. At least that boondoggle only affected the parents who willingly sent their children to that school, unlike Common Core which affects us all.

Next: We’re People, Not Products