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A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending

August 27, 2013

This is a post about Bill Gates and his money, a brief audit of his Common Core (CCSS) purchases. Before I delve into Gates accounting, allow me to set the stage with a bit of CCSS background.

A Bit of CCSS Background

It is important to those promoting CCSS that the public believes the idea that CCSS is “state-led.” The CCSS website reports as much and names two organizations as “coordinating” the “state-led” CCSS: The National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Interestingly, the CCSS website makes no mention of CCSS “architect” David Coleman:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. [Emphasis added.]

Nevertheless, if one reviews this 2009 NGA news release on those principally involved in CCSS development, one views a listing of 29 individuals associated with Student Achievement Partners, ACT, College Board, and Achieve. In truth, only 2 out of 29 members are not affiliated with an education company.

CCSS as “state-led” is fiction. Though NGA reports 29 individuals as involved with CCSS creation, it looks to be even fewer:

NGA first directly involved governors in nationalizing education standards in June 2008, when it co-hosted an education forum with the Hunt Institute, a project of former North Carolina Gov. James Hunt Jr. In December 2008, NGA, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Achieve Inc. released a report calling for national standards. The report recommended “a strong state-federal partnership” to accomplish this goal.

Those three nonprofits answered their own call the next few months, deciding to commission Common Core. NGA and Hunt’s press releases during that time, and a paper describing NGA’s Common Core process by former NGA education director Dane Linn, provide no endorsement of such activity from more than a handful of elected officials. [Emphasis added.]

Also involved in creation of CCSS is Student Achievement Partners, the company David Coleman started in 2007 in order produce national standards. Student Achievement Partners has no work other than CCSS.

Now to Bill Gates and his money.

Gates Buys NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners

The four principal organizations associated with CCSS– NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have accepted millions from Bill Gates. In fact, prior to CCSS “completion” in June 2009, Gates had paid millions to NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve. And the millions continued to flow following CCSS completion.

Prior to June 2009, NGA received $23.6 million from the Gates Foundation from 2002 through 2008. $19.7 million was for the highly-disruptive “high school redesign” (i.e., “small schools”) project, one that Gates abandoned.

After June 2009, NGA received an additional $2.1 million from Gates, the largest payout coming in February 2011,

to work with state policymakers on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, with special attention to effective resource reallocation to ensure complete execution, as well as rethinking state policies on teacher effectiveness
Amount: $1,598,477 [Emphasis added.]

Years ago, Gates paid NGA to “rethink policies on teacher effectiveness.”

One man, lots of money, nationally shaping a profession to which he has never belonged.

As for CCSSO: The Gates amounts are even higher than for NGA. Prior to June 2009, the Gates Foundation gave $47.1 million to CCSSO (from 2002 to 2007), with the largest amount focused on data “access” and “data driven decisions”:

March 2007
Purpose: to support Phase II of the National Education Data Partnership seeking to promote transparency and accessibility of education data and improve public education through data-driven decision making
Amount: $21,642,317 [Emphasis added.]

Following CCSS completion in June 2009, Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for CSSS implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control:

July 2013
Purpose: to CCSSO, on behalf of the PARCC and SBAC consortia to support the development of high quality assessments to measure the Common Core State Standards
Amount: $4,000,000

November 2012
Purpose: to support the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in helping States’ to build their data inoperability capability and IT leadership capacity
Amount: $1,277,648

October 2012
Purpose: to support strategic planning for the sustainability of the Common Core State Standards and the two multi-state assessment consortia tasked with designing assessments aligned with those standards
Amount: $1,100,000

June 2011
Purpose: to support the Common Core State Standards work
Amount: $9,388,911

November 2009
Purpose: to partner with federal, state, public, and private interests to develop common, open, longitudinal data standards
Amount: $3,185,750

July 2009
Purpose: to increase the leadership capacity of chiefs by focusing on standards and assessments, data systems, educator development and determining a new system of supports for student learning
Amount: $9,961,842  [Emphasis added.]

Gates money also flowed to Achieve, Inc.; prior to June 2009, Achieve received $23.5 million in Gates funding. Another $13.2 million followed after CCSS creation, with $9.3 million devoted to “building strategic alliances” for CCSS promotion:

 June 2012
Purpose: to strengthen and expand the ADP Network, provide
more support to states for CCSS implementation, and build strategic national
and statewide alliances by engaging directly with key stakeholders
Amount: $9,297,699  [Emphasis added.]

CCSS is not “state led.” It is “Gates led.”

How foolish it is to believe that the man with the checkbook is not calling the CCSS shots.

The “nonprofit” Student Achievement Partners, founded by CCSS “architect” David Coleman, also benefits handsomely via Gates. All that Student Achievement Partners does is CCSS, and for that, in June 2012, Gates granted Coleman’s company $6.5 million.

In total, the four organizations primarily responsible for CCSS– NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have taken $147.9 million from Bill Gates.

Common Core Gates Standards.

Gates Buys Select Major Ed Organizations and Think Tanks

Let us now consider major education organizations and think tanks that have accepted Gates money for the express purpose of advancing CCSS:

American Enterprise Institute: $1,068,788.

American Federation of Teachers: $5,400,000.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: $3,269,428.

Council of Great City Schools: $5,010,988.

Education Trust: $2,039,526.

National Congress of Parents and Teachers: $499,962.

National Education Association: $3,982,597.

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $1,961,116.

(For most of the organizations above, Gates has funded other reform-related efforts, including those related to charter schools, small schools, teacher evaluation, and data systems. My comprehensive listing of Gates grants for the organizations above [and then some] can be found here:  Gates Foundation Grants to Select Education and Policy Groups)

From the list of organizations above, I would like to highlight a few particular Gates purchases. First is this one, paid to the Fordham Institute:

Date: January 2011
Purpose: to track state progress towards implementation of standards and to understand how what students read changes in response to the standards
Amount: $1,002,000 [Purpose emphasis added.]

Even though CCSS was never piloted, Gates and Fordham want to watch state “progress” in implementing CCSS, and they even want to know how the untested CCSS shifts the curriculum– even though reformers are quick to parrot that CCSS is “not a curriculum.” This “tracking” tacitly acknowledges CCSS is meant to drive curriculum.

Next is this Gates purchase of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI):

Date: June 2012
Purpose: to support their education policy work in four distinct areas:
Exploring the Challenges of Common Core, Future of American Education Working Groups, Innovations in Financial Aid, and Bridging K-12 and Higher Ed with Technology
Amount: $1,068,788 [Purpose emphasis added.]

Gates is paying AEI to promote educational policy that bolsters CCSS. And Gates is getting his money’s worth from AEI “scholar” Frederick Hess, who offers these two articles advising “Common Core’ites.”

Third is the Gates purchase of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT):

Date: June 2012
Purpose: to support the AFT Innovation Fund and work on teacher
development and Common Core State Standards
Amount: $4,400,000

Even though AFT was not invited to the CCSS table until the “standards” had already been drafted by the CCSS Inner Circle noted above, and even though CCSS has not been piloted, AFT only called for a testing moratorium and not for a cease-and-desist of CCSS altogether. It appears that accepting $4.4 million in order to “work on teacher development and Common Core Standards” precludes “just saying no” to what amounts to the CCSS Colossal Education Experiment.

Fourth is the Gates purchase of the National Education Association (NEA). In July 2013, NEA officially endorsed CCSS, and in July 2013, Gates paid NEA for its support in the form of two grants totaling $6.3 million:

Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the capacity of state NEA affiliates to advance teaching and learning issues and student success in collaboration with local affiliates
Amount: $2,426,500

Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support a cohort of National Education Association Master Teachers in the development of Common Core-aligned lessons in K-5 mathematics and K-12 English Language Arts
Amount: $3,882,600

NEA was not at the CCSS birthing table with NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners. However, after the establishment of CCSS without teachers, now Gates is willing to pay a teachers union to create curricula that in the end do not really matter since the CCSS power is in the assessments that are completely out of NEA’s control.

I have saved my favorite CCSS-Gates purchase for last, this one to the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS):

Date: June 2011
Purpose: to promote and coordinate successful implementation of the new common core standards in major urban public school systems nationwide
Amount: $4,910,988

Date: March 2010
Purpose: to support the development of a cross-sector proposal to pilot test the new common core standards in a set of selected cities
Amount: $100,000  [Purpose emphasis added.]

It seems that Gates paid CGCS $100,000 to propose a pilot study of CCSS in 2010 (not to conduct a pilot study– just to draft the idea for a pilot). Fifteen months later, there is no mention of a “proposal” much less a pilot study materializing; instead, Gates pays CGCS to “just go ahead” and “coordinate successful implementation” of the untested CCSS.

Enough About Bill for Now

So much Gates cash, and so many hands willing to accept it.

Bill Gates likes Common Core. So, he is purchasing it. In doing so, Gates demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions.

I do not have billions to counter Gates. What I do have is this blog and the ability to expose the purchase.

I might be without cash, but I am not without power.

Can Bill Gates buy a foundational democratic institution? Will America allow it? The fate of CCSS will provide crucial answers to those looming questions.

Also see Parts IIIIIIV , V , and VI of this series.

  1. Wow.. thanks so much for exposing on your blog… what Bill and these other are freely exposing on theirs…. um.. yeah. If you want to know what Bill Gates and his wife are doing.. you pretty much just half to ask him. He’s been an a**, a tyrant, an a******, and made some really crappy software that we all had to use — but he’s never been that secretive, and he’s much less so now.

    It is really odd, that Bill, who has been warring to keep the public schools open (and don’t give me that crap about his kid going to the same private school he did alright? That is fricken lame) LIterally warring to Keep them open because the due date on No Child Left Behind was over on Tuesday — right? We’re done. Without what Bill and Obama struggled to do against a obstructing Congress, School is Out.

    The Congress is not going to alter the law, (hell ebola is here and they aren’t even moving on that.). So here’s the scenario if what your best thinking occurred back in 2008.

    Congress has abandoned public schools completely — a little study will confirm that Koch’s Goals include the destruction of public schools (or worse, induct them . Whether that has something to do with Congress not acting at all on this, I don’t know, as a timeline note Koch is moving into Kansas with indoctrination courses in 2008 — I do know teachers are screwed.

    No more federal money as the NCLB law puts hammer down., Schools close, all of them, and then go into full Fed control to be auctioned off to private corporations .. or Catholic/Christian run schools

    “A fifth year of failure results in planning to restructure the entire school; the plan is implemented if the school fails to hit its AYP targets for the sixth year in a row. Common options include closing the school, turning the school into a charter school, hiring a private company to run the school, or asking the state office of education to run the school directly.” — Law — No Child Left Behind

    Teacher salaries plummet. Everyone is under personal contract, no unions. No health care. Each school under its own curriculum with no sharing of information or experience, keeping teacher “value” as low as possible. (Your value is only positively affected if you need little or no training… going from one school to another, you will have to be completely retrained, because every corporation will have their own “proprietary methods”)

    No oversight, so qualifications for teachers diminish. Within ten years, an AA certificate is more than enough, and who cares what it is for. (Federal law keeps the Fed from policing or acting on local school curriculum at the state level. Since the schools are no longer State schools, there is no one to police them for quality, method or treatment of the kids.) By the way, this last, is why the Fed has the CCSS but not any curriculum or teaching methods or any provisions of that nature, in case you were wondering about that…
    Points of Interest ..
    “And unless we begin advocating clearly, vocally and visibly for real public education solutions to replace CCSS and other reform policies, we might just wind up with an education system led by the ALEC agenda.

    ALEC’s agenda, led by the Koch Brother have had power and influence behind the scenes, which shape polices on climate change, “Stand Your Ground” laws, and “Citizens United” should be enough to give any of us pause and take their ability to influence public thinking on education very seriously. See for brilliant yet frightening details of the “Kochtopus.” According to The New Yorker:”

    The libertarian duo used their wealth and power to elect four segregationists to North Carolina’s Wake County school board in 2009.

    The candidates and their backers opposed the district’s desegregation policy of mixing students from poor and rich neighborhoods by busing them to the same schools. They did not advertise their intentions so plainly, however. Instead, they mouthed terms like “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools”—phrases that hark back to the campaign of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who during his 1963 inaugural speech famously said: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

    The four Koch-backed candidates won election to the school board and have since begun to dismantle the busing program despite local protest.

    Welcome to the Utopia you dream of.

    I think we can agree that it is only a Conspiracy if it is not happening right now in front of everyone, and being reported in serious news streams. That goes with Koch and Gates and all the rest. What I described up there is only what is actually happening, with my only edit being what Obama and Gates have added.

    The writer from Politico above made a very clarifying statement “”And unless we begin advocating clearly, vocally and visibly for real public education solutions to replace CCSS and other reform policies, we might just wind up with an education system led by the ALEC agenda.”

    My personal theory is that groups like BAT and the rest are Koch machines, which will fall back and fade soon after the elections are over. I only wrote all of this on the off chance you might be different. I don’t get the rejection of CCSS from teachers. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all. The amount of freedom and creativity and exploration it offers has NEVER been so great. With the groups jumping in an OpenSource culture is forming quickly around the public schools. I’ve been in the OpenSource crowds and they are powerful voices and alies to groups like Teachers and K-12 student needs.

    Check these two things out, and you will see what I see in CSS (get a new coke or coffee, and explore a little)
    Between those two resources, individual schools become less dependent on Fed, less dependent on State, more open, teachers work much less “home hours” are able to explore methods and structures they could never have in the past and off their students a much deeper learning experience that can be sent home with them.
    Once OpenSource culture is involved, there is no “Fed Control” or State Censorship, or anything else. And a bit of exploration will show you just how effective Bill was when he went after then OpenSource population with the intent of bringing them down. — hint: It actually blossomed in response, and raged right back at him.

    Well.. I’ll probably clean this up and make a post out of it when I have time to clean and clarify my thoughts. You are putting out a lot of work — but I don’t understand the goal. No CC? Then what are you suggesting is better, which does more for the schools? No Fed Control? We had that, for the last 12 years with only a test at the end to report. It was hell — maybe you didn’t actually experience that.. but when School Councilors are encouraging low performing kids to drop out… it is hell.. I can’t imagine anyone wanting that again. CCSS is the barest of FED.. just enough so that Obama can keep the schools open and NCLB off your necks until he can get congress to change the law. He can’t do that, and he can’t “ignore” the law either. It is a real mess.

    Have fun.. see you from across the river in the morning.

  2. Reblogged this on DivineSparkIgnites and commented:
    Bill Gates money is bought off many organizations to win them to his cause and endorse the CCSS Standards. Follow the money…

    • and thank god he did, cause we certainly don’t care enough about it to do anything on our own. Hell.. we barely give them books and a babysitter.

  3. See my post Green, Douglas W. Are You Smarter Than Bill Gates? The Edvocate, 11/17/2015, It also takes up a chapter in my new book “Teaching Isn’t Rocket Science, It’s Way More Complex: What’s Wrong With Education and How to Fix Some of It.” Amazon page a summary The basic idea is that when Bill wants to cure some disease he works with top scientists. When he wants to impact education, he does not seem to bring in people with high-end expertise in education who know that one-size-fits-all standards and tests are harmful. Thanks for this and keep up the good work.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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