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UPDATE: Core Knowledge, Amplify, and “Free” Materials

September 4, 2013

UPDATE 09-05-13:

Don Hirsch, Core Knowledge founder, has provided this link for the free CK ELA K3 materials:!

Note: The links in my post are still live and do not lead to free downloads. These links also contain no message or redirect to the free downloads. They do, however, make it easy to locate where to purchase the same “free” materials.

In short, locating the free downloads is confusing. 

This situation irks me.  CK and Amplify certainly have the capability to remove outdated information and update their links. As it stands, this Wonderland chase for the promised free updated information bespeaks either web maintenance sloppiness or ill intention.

Read Hirsch’s next response here:


My second response to Hirsch (via email 09-05-13, 11 a.m. CST):

Mr. Hirsch–
First, you need to clean up your CK site.
The erroneous links are live links that
 I found yesterday by googling
“core knowledge language arts
free downloads.”
On this link, make the free download more visible:
Also, update this link. The last update happened right
before your arrangement with Amplify, so I know
it is possible to update:
Next, you need to publicize the information
you sent to me in the email below.
If Amplify really wants teachers to locate
the free downloads, it would not be so easy
to miss them by being caught in a series
of outdated links. Amplify could start by providing
a link to the free downloads on the page
where it is trying to sell its products.
This situation stinks. CK and Amplify
need to clean it up.
Hirsch’s response to me (09-05-13, 11:10 a.m. CST):
I’m forwarding all these web site suggestions.   



In April 2013, Core Knowledge (CK) entered into a business arrangement with Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify regarding CK’s Language Arts K-3 curriculum:

Amplify Learning is pleased to announce it has signed an exclusive license agreement with the Core Knowledge Foundation for 20-year rights to its widely respected Core Knowledge Language Arts program for grades for K-3 (CK ELA K3). [Emphasis added.]

Given that Amplify is a company, its goal is to garner profits. In signing CK, Amplify is ahead of the market, for CK is already aligned with the cash-cow-producing Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

Known for its scientifically based content and approach, Core Knowledge’s influential work anticipated the Common Core State Standards, so its practices and philosophy are true to the rigorous spirit of the standards and exemplify the manner in which they ought to be implemented. 

Thus, Amplify is in a fine position to benefit handsomely from CK in its plans to nationally market CK ELA K3 (and beyond):

Through this partnership with Core Knowledge, Amplify Learning will develop and market to schools nationwide a unique, effective reading and language arts program for grades K-3 that will expand to include grades 4 and 5.

Of course, this “partnership” illustrates a major problem with the non-tested CCSS rush to implementation: Education corporations stand to make a fiscal killing off of promoting CCSS-related classroom materials.

And Murdoch needs his education divisions to thrive financially, for he depends upon it in order to compensate for his other News Corp losses. In 2012, Murdoch even restructured News Corp in a manner that clearly shows he is leveraging his education divisions to help keep his struggling publishing divisions afloat.

Even though CK founder E.D. Hirsch has never promoted CK in order to make himself rich, Murdoch clearly intends to draw a profit from his “exclusive” CK marketing rights.

As such, there is an obvious element of betrayal in the CK-Amplify transaction: According to this Fall 2012 American Educator article, CK supposedly had already agreed to make its CCSS-aligned materials available for free:

…the balance in Core Knowledge nicely aligns with the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts….

In fact, this program aligns so well with the standards, which more than 40 states have adopted, that the New York State Education Department has contracted with Core Knowledge to make the program available throughout the state and to develop pre-school-level materials. As part of this contract, Core Knowledge will post language arts materials online at, a New York website, so that teachers from all over the country can download them for free++

++The Core Knowledge Language Arts Program is not yet widely available, but the Core Knowledge Foundation is in discussions with publishers to make it available to schools.  [Emphasis added.]

Sure, there is acknowledgement of a search for a “publisher,” yet this footnote does not nullify the previous announcement of CK ELA materials for free.

I followed the link in the excerpt above to see what was offered for “free” and made an interesting discovery: The “free” materials are dated 2010, even though the link was updated on April 3, 2013– only a couple of weeks before CK and Amplify publicized their business arrangement. (CK ELA 3 is missing from the “free” materials site. Notice also the times of update– within a minute of one another.) The “free” materials include the disclaimer, “You can look at them, but you can’t use them”:

·Grade 2 English Language Arts: Archived 2010 Core Knowledge Materials

Note: The archived 2010 Core Knowledge materials below are not the final NYSED materials, and are for review purposes only. These are not for printing. Listening and Learning Strand Domains Domain 1: Fighting for a Cause Anthology Image Cards Domain 2: Fairy Tales and Tall Tales Anthology Image Cards …

04/03/2013 – 8:59am

·Grade 1 English Language Arts: Archived 2010 Core Knowledge Materials

Note:   The archived 2010 Core Knowledge materials below are not the final NYSED materials, and are for review purposes only. These are not for printing. Listening and Learning Strand Domains Domain 1: Different Lands, Similar Stories Anthology Flip Book Image Cards Domain 2: Fables and Stories Anthology Flip …

04/03/2013 – 8:58am

·Kindergarten English Language Arts: Archived 2010 Core Knowledge Materials

Note:   The archived 2010 Core Knowledge materials below are not the final NYSED materials, and are for review purposes only. These are not for printing. Listening and Learning Strand Domains Domain 1: Nursery Rhymes and Fables Tell It Again! Read-Aloud Anthology Tell It Again! Flip Book Image Cards Posters Domain …

04/03/2013 – 8:57am

So. Teachers nationwide can view CCSS-aligned CK ELA materials “for free” but cannot print them.

What if a teacher wants these materials in order to really use them in the classroom?

If one goes to the CK website looking for the CK ELA K3 materials, one is redirected to Amplify. (09-05-09 NOTE:  I emailed Hirsch about including a “free download” link on this page, which was added today at my request.)

And at Amplify– you guessed it– one can purchase them.

The cheapest item by far is $650 for a CK ELA kit to serve 25 children. That’s $26 per student– just a few dollars shy of the cost per student for a Jeb-Bush-promoted PARCC assessment.

As a teacher, I realize the importance of schools’ purchasing teaching materials that are reproducible. Most schools do not have the funds for substantial annual curricular purchases for all subjects.  And yet, the Amplify CK ELA materials are not reproducible, which means that a school would have to pay some serious money each year in order to use materials that are deceptively publicized as “free.”

A quick summary: A 2012 American Educator article notes that CK materials are free for teachers both in New York and across the nation to download. The CK website has some (but not all) CK ELA free materials, but only to read, and these have been recently “updated” (according to the CK site record) but are amazingly outdated. So, for usable, truly updated CK ELA K3 materials, one can go to the CK website, but one is redirected to Murdoch’s Amplify, where one must purchase these now-certainly-not-free CK ELA K3 materials.

Hirsch says that he sold the exclusive rights to CK ELA K3 (and in the future, K5) to Amplify because Amplify “had no preconceptions or vested interests in the formalistic approach to reading.”

Clearly Amplify’s “vested interests” are chiefly of a financial nature.

News Corp must stay afloat somehow.

Looks like Common Core provides a spacious life raft.

  1. Looks like Amplify just closed its office in Bangor.

  2. ira shor permalink

    Wow, thanks for digging up the real story of exploiting CK for big profit. The materials are not “free,” as many of us suspected of course, but Mercedes does the job again in showing us just how this treacherous business world works when it takes over education.

    • Hi, Ira. Don Hirsch of Core Knowledge has contacted his web designers in order to make the free materials obvious. I still have my eyes on Amplify and NYDOE re: profit motives.

  3. LLC1923 permalink

    Read through the “free” downloads. CK lesson scripts are meaningless for students and will create significant classroom issues since the scripts are not based on sound instructional practices. The scripts seem designed for TFA or substitute teachers.

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  1. Schneider vs. Hirsch: Is Core Knowledge Free…or Not? | Diane Ravitch's blog

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