Dear Commons Community,
Bill Gates has been addressing various groups including teachers defending the Common Core Curriculum standards. On Sunday morning, he made his case on the news program, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. As background, the creation of the Common Core started in 2009, and thanks in part to funding requirements by the federal government via the Race to the Top competition, most states have adopted them. In the past year, as school districts began to implement the standards, the effort has suddenly become controversial and politically volatile. On the right, organizations such as the American Principles Project and Freedomworks have mobilized their networks to attack the standards, arguing that the Common Core is a federal initiative being imposed on states. On the left, some worry that the Common Core is untested or will continue to disadvantage poorer students. Teachers unions that initially supported the effort have criticized some states’ messy implementation efforts. Gates has been pleading with various groups to maintain the Common Core mainly because his foundation has made a huge commitment to it.
While he is the world’s richest man and Microsoft is one of the most profitable companies in the country, Mr. Gates has questionable credibility when it comes to education. Many of the education projects which his Foundation has funded have been poorly implemented and scattershot. The Common Core rollout in a number of states including here in New York has all of the fingerprints of a Gates Foundation initiative namely a rushed implementation and an artificial need to test, test, test. NYS Education Commissioner John King has taken most of the heat for the botched implementation but the Gates Foundation as well as the U.S. Department of Education have been prime movers in pushing the states the adopt the Common Core as quickly as possible.
I believe that the Common Core has a number of beneficial elements but its botched implementation has left it open to criticism. My advice to Mr. Gates – stick to running technology companies and leave education to educators.