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Robert Rothman at the Alliance for Excellent Education responds to conspiracy theorists who maintain that the Common Core State Standards are really, according to Diane Ravitch, “the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States” and that coup is led by Bill Gates and President Obama. Or, as Glenn Beck, only slightly more histrionic has it, the Common Core is “a hostile takeover, the final takeover, and the roots come from the stimulus package…Our children are the guinea pigs for the world. We will lead the way. And do you remember when I said we wouldn’t be destroyed; we would be perverted? Profound darkness on this.”
Really? Um, no.
Rothman explains that, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated about $200 million in 2008 to develop and implement the standards, efforts to create an equitable national curriculum started in the early 2000’s. The efforts were sparked by growing awareness of the achievement gap between minority students and non-minority students as revealed through NAEP testing, gaps in academic achievement between American students and students in other industrialized nations, and the growing number of American students placed in remedial classes in colleges.
Did funding from Gates and, later, the federal government, “pull off” the Common Core? Did the promise of money persuade states to adopt and implement standards they might not have adopted without the funding? I wish people who make these accusations actually talked to officials in states. Here’s Eric Smith, the former commissioner of education in Florida:
“As the standards emerged, we came to understand the benefits of signing on and the value of having our students compete with others around the nation and around the world. And, because of bi-partisan state support, an understanding of the connection between education and our economic future, and the rigor of the Common Core standards, there was not much state opposition to adoption.”