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Gates Is at It Again: The Common Core-centered “Collaborative for Student Success”

November 12, 2014

Billionaire Bill Gates really wants the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for “mass” education.

bill gates smile

In 2008, two well-positioned individuals asked Gates to pay for “state led” CCSS supposedly “launched in 2009 by state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia”.

One was edupreneur David Coleman, who started the “silent partner” organization at the center of CCSS development, Student Achievement Partners (SAP), with pal Jason Zimba and who has since been promoted to president of one of two testing organizations at the center of CCSS development, College Board. Moreover, Coleman and his SAP co-founder Zimba have connections to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan dating back to 2002, when Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Coleman and Zimba’s Grow Network rode the assessment wave created by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Here is Grow Network’s 2003 contract with CPS.

The other person who asked Gates in 2008 to pay for “2009 state-led” CCSS was CCSS co-owner organization, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) President Gene Wilhoit. Wilhoit joined SAP in 2013. Wilhoit is now with the University of Kentucky Center for Innovation in Education (CIE), which Gates paid one million dollars in February 2013 to help launch expressly “to advance implementation of the common core.”

In 2008, Gates agreed to pay, and he continues to do so.

But the Core is having its share of resistance.

It needs a Super Support Group.

Enter the Collaborative for Student Success (CFSS), a “grant making” mega-Astroturf group entirely centered on promoting CCSS.

CFSS was featured as an unquestioned authority on Politico’s November 11, 2014 Morning Education page. Here’s the clip:

COMMON CORE SCORECARD: The Collaborative for Student Success is circulating a memo today arguing that there’s no need for Republican candidates to run away from the Common Core to win over their base. Opponents of the standards may be loud, but they’re not mainstream, the memo argues. The evidence: Just six of the 44 governors in Common Core states have expressed interest in repealing the standards. The collaborative’s executive director, Karen Nussle, counts just four gubernatorial races where Common Core was a factor: Arizona, Colorado, New York and Pennsylvania. She also notes with satisfaction that pro-standards candidates won in all races but Arizona. “These statistics demonstrate quite conclusively that, far from being a political loser, support for the Common Core does not jeopardize a candidate’s political prospects,” Nussle writes. The memo: http://bit.ly/1EmcLX4

According to CFSS Executive Director Karen Nussle’s Linkedin bio, she is a “communications strategist” who once worked for then-Minority Whip, Republican Newt Gingrich, and who owns her own communications firm. CFSS has not been around for even a year yet– based on Nussle’s bio, it seems to have been established in January 2014– yet it has already been positioned as an organization worthy of national news for its “memo” cheering Republicans in their support of CCSS.

That’s exactly how grass roots reform works, don’t you know.

As noted on the CFSS “Get the Facts” page, here is the so-called CCSS story: “In 2009, state governors from around the country came together with state school chiefs to discuss education reform. … By early 2010, states began to voluntarily adopt the state standards. …There has been some confusion about Common Core, much of it based on misinformation and a misunderstanding of what Common Core is, and how much local control states retain after they voluntarily adopt the standards.”

No mention of Coleman’s dominant role, nor of SAP’s central role, nor of the Coleman-Wilhoit 2008 request that Gates bankroll an arguably-national standards effort that the state governors had not just happened to “come together” to create.

And certainly no mention of the hook that CCSS and its federally-funded assessments have become in securing Duncan’s state-led-castrating NCLB waivers.

Such facts would only interfere with the single CFSS mission of selling CCSS.

But where there is a shiny new, turfy CCSS organization, there is Bill.

The bottom of the CFSS home page includes the following statement:

© 2014 Collaborative for Student Success. All Rights Reserved. The Collaborative for Student Success is a project of the New Venture Fund © 2014 [Emphasis added.]

Photos throughout this site courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

CFSS cannot even fake independence from Gates by producing its own website photos.

Indeed, aside from his providing CFSS website photos, guess who is footing the New Venture Fund bill for this CCSS push?

You know it: Bill Gates– to the tune of $10.3 million for “comprehensive and targeted communications”:

New Venture Fund


Date: May 2014
Purpose: to support the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards and related assessments through comprehensive and targeted communications and advocacy in key states and the District of Columbia [Emphasis added.]
Amount: $10,300,300

“Comprehensive and targeted communications” apparently includes Republican politicians following the November 4, 2014, elections. On November 11, 2014, CFSS issued this memo to “interested parties.” Here is an excerpt:

Even amidst a Republican wave, candidates elected to statewide governing positions largely resisted pressure to call for repeal of the Standards:

 86% of Governors in pro-Common Core states have not expressed interest in repealing the Standards (38 of 44 Governors)
 90% of state Superintendents in Common Core states have not taken steps to repeal the Standards (40 of 44 Superintendents)
 Among the 44 states with Common Core on the books, only six Governors and three State Superintendents have sought to repeal it

Target the Republicans. Be sure that they feel secure in supporting CCSS.

Never mind that the CCSS assessments have yet to hit most of the nation.

Never mind that CCSS cheerleader, Republican Jeb Bush is considering a 2016 presidential run– one that will follow the 2014-15 federally-funded, CCSS-consortium-assessment implementation deadline as such is entangled with Obama-Duncan Race to the Top (RTTT)– and one that could well discolor any previous Republican love affair for CCSS– especially since Republican resistance to CCSS appears to focus on federal overreach into state education affairs.

The CFSS memo does not discuss the as-of-yet looming CCSS assessments to be encountered in most CCSS states during the 2014-15 school year.

An aside: There are some who insist that CCSS can (and should) be divorced from the assessments. However, CCSS was never intended to exist without its high-stakes assessments.

Here is a question:

If CCSS is so safe, why is Gates paying CFSS $10.3 million to “target communications” on the issue?

He must still be unsure his CCSS purchase is actually in his Gates-monogrammed bag.

There is another Gates money layer to the CFSS story.

Numerous CFSS “partners” are already Gates-funded organizations, many with funding earmarked for pushing CCSS: America’s PromiseMilitary Child Education CoalitionStand for ChildrenStudent Achievement PartnersState Collaborative on Reforming Education (Tennessee), US Chamber of Commerce FoundationMassachusetts Business Alliance for Education (study), National PTA, Educators for ExcellencePrichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Note that two strategic “partners” on this list are Coleman-founded Student Achievement Partners (SAP), which solely exists to promote CCSS, and Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “expert” promoters of CCSS nationwide.

A number of other CFSS “partners” include business organizations– a hallmark of  “economically driven education reform,” or the insistence that the chief purpose of education is to serve business.

us chamber of horrors

And you thought education had a loftier purpose.

The CFSS “about” page offers more details about other CCSS-friendly “philanthropy” supporting CFSS:

The Collaborative is supported by both regional and national foundations, including: Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Other funders may soon be joining this important effort.[Emphasis added’]

More “funders may soon” push “state led” CCSS via this CCSS “grant making” machine. How novel in this age of Astroturf.

Though no Astroturfers could beat out Bill for his unrelenting, CCSS money-spew, a word on both Hewlett and Helmsley is surely in order:

First Hewlett: Like Gates, Hewlett also wants CCSS to drive public education in a manner unprecedented by any other set of “standards.” In October 2014, a Hewlett-funded, pro-CCSS group released a “report” modeling a CCSS-centered “new accountability” for states willing to take the CCSS-centric bait.

Former CCSSO President Gene Wilhoit is part of this Hewlett-funded group.

CCSS has turned out to be the economic gift that keeps on giving for the likes of CCSS insiders such as Wilhoit and Coleman.

Politico offers none of this fiscally-spider-webbed background on the amply-funded and -connected CFSS. Astounding.

As for Helmsley: In January 2014, Helmsley divided $1.6 million between both national teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) so that teachers could “review” items produced by the two federally-funded CCSS testing consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC, and also train other teachers on how to allow these tests to drive classroom instruction.

A corporate-reform-friendly byproduct of this Helmsley-funded effort is that it  enables test-driven reformers to advertise that teachers were “involved” in the two CCSS testing consortia.

Nice, huh?

Now, one of the best “facts” on the CFSS site is the hologram of “educator” support for CCSS. CFSS lists five national organizations as implied proof positive of teacher practitioner support for CCSS:

There is great support for the Common Core State Standards among educators – from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers…

No mention that CCSS part-owner, Gates-funded CCSSO sponsors the State Teachers of the Year; no mention of the Gates money paid to both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) expressly for CCSS; no mention that Gates dished out dough to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for other issues so much so that NBPTS handed him the keynote spot at its March 2014 conference. (In 2010, AFT also handed over a keynote to Gates.)

Of the above five named organizations, only the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) appears to be free of ties to Gates Foundation money. However, let us avoid making the CFSS-induced assumption that since NCTM endorses CCSS, so do the majority of American public school math teachers.

All that CFSS existence has proved yet again is that CCSS is top-down, manufactured “reform.” And where there is manufactured reform, there must be “communications strategist”-led, manufactured support.

It’s all in the sale. Just ask Bill.

bill gates hands

 

___________________________________________________________

Schneider is also author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

previti chronicle pic

 

 

18 Comments
  1. Patrick Courrielche permalink

    Your posts are always a welcome treat in my inbox. Thank you!

  2. Laura chapman permalink

    Looks like the PTA is among those Gates has purchased. Glad you went after Politico.

  3. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Thank you for sharing your insight into the players and organizations in the
    “fiscally-spider-webbed background on the amply-funded and -connected CFSS”.

  4. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    The money comes from Bill Gates and his billionaire boys club with the goal to destroy public education. The idea is to use different front organizations to fool as many people as they can to achieve their agenda.

  5. Forgive the somewhat disjointed message. I have been taking a look at CCCRA http://www.collegeandcareerreadyamerica.org/about-us and have found the organization underwent a name change.

    Quoting from the CCCRA site “Formed in 2009, the CCCRA (formerly known as the Coalition for Student Achievement) united organizations across the U.S. to help ensure that federal education funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) would be used, in part, to drive key education reforms to dramatically improve U.S. student achievement—a cornerstone of sustained national economic recovery. Currently, the coalition is focused on advancing a broad array of policies and actions that enable states, districts and schools can take to support all students graduating from high school ready for college and career success.”

    Was the name changed because the CSA was associated with the $$$ that bought the Common Core and put it into states. Some would say that either the plan was waiting for the crash to happen or the crash was engineered so CCSS would happen . At any rate had states not been so desperate to take recovery funds Common Core may not have advanced as far as it did.

    Additional searching led to the Hope Street Group
    http://www.hopestreetgroup.org/resources/coalition-student-achievement-letter-secretary-duncan The site states the newly formed CSA asked Secretary Duncan to enact strict guidance for use of recovery funds. Wonder what WAS in that letter? Probably not surprising as
    http://www.hopestreetgroup.org/about/funders the funders are the usual suspects.

    Searching on, one finds a letter with CSA letter head http://www.corestandards.org/assets/k12_statements/StatementK12CoalitionStudentAchievement.pdf However, the original website is gone. Following the information
    http://www.americaspromise.org/press-release/america%E2%80%99s-promise-alliance-joins-coalition-student-achievement and
    http://www.americaspromise.org/donors we again find the usual funders.

  6. Michael permalink

    Have you seen this Mercedes:

    Monday, November 17, 2014
    Dr. Brown Invited to National Connected Superintendents Summit

    Dr. Luvelle Brown, superintendent of the Ithaca City School District, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the top school leaders from across America to participate in the first-ever National Connected Superintendents Summit Wednesday, November 19, at the White House.

    Superintendent Luvelle Brown is among exemplary local school chiefs who will be recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning. This unique event will bring together officials from throughout America to share with one other and the Education Department promising approaches to using technology in classes.

    “School districts across the country are helping teachers harness the power of technology to create personal learning environments for all students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We want to make sure every child – whether he or she is in the inner-city, in a rural community or on a Native American reservation – has access to knowledge and the chance to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

    The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12-15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress both made and possible by local school districts. The events will also include the unveiling of digital tools that facilitate incorporation of technology into short-term and long-range education planning.

    To help spotlight the value of technology in schools, the Education Department is sponsoring a Future Ready Initiative aimed at showcasing outstanding school leadership and strategies.

    “The Future Ready Initiative highlights the critical role of district leaders in setting a vision and creating the environment where educators and students access the tools, content, and expertise necessary for thriving in a connected world,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology.

    Future Ready superintendents demonstrate effective use of technology in some of the following ways:

    Fostering and leading a culture of collaboration and digital citizenship;
    Transitioning schools and families to high-speed connectivity;
    Empowering educators with professional learning opportunities;
    Accelerating progress toward universal access to quality devices;
    Providing access to quality digital content;
    Creating access, equity, and excellence – particularly in rural, remote, and low-income districts;
    Offering digital tools to students and families to help them prepare for success in college;
    Sharing best practices and mentoring other districts in the transition to digital learning.

    In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, starting with a goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation connectivity within five years. Model schools and districts across the country are using technology to create personalized learning environments; technology will play an increasingly crucial role in the future.

    “Our community invests significant resources in the preparation of its young people for the ever-changing world. I’m honored to be recognized as a national leader and excited that our work serves as a model for others nationwide,” said Dr. Brown.

    http://www.ithacacityschools.org/

    http://tech.ed.gov/superintendentsummit/

    Here’s the details the devil desires:

    “Encouraging private sector innovation

    Educational devices supported by high-speed networks are the portal to the world of online earning and interactive content, to personalized education software that adapts to students’ needs, and to breakthrough advances in assessing understanding and mastery.

    These devices give students access to more rigorous and engaging classes, new learning resources, rich visualizations of complex concepts, and instruction in any foreign language. They also give students more opportunities to work at their own speed and receive additional one-on-one help they need to develop their knowledge and skills.

    Leading technology companies are capable of producing feature-rich educational devices that are price-competitive with basic textbooks.And a robust market in educational software can unlock the full educational potential of broadband investment, while create American jobs and export opportunities in a global education marketplace of over $1 trillion.”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/06/06/what-connected

    • Hi, MIchael. Yes, I have seen this. I have written about states committing to turning student data over to USDOE as part of the CCSS testing consortium agreements (I believe that’s where it is). I think pushing superintendents to “digitally align” feeds into this massive data collection effort.

  7. Michael permalink

    Have you seen this? Posted this last night and it seemed to disappear.

    Monday, November 17, 2014
    Dr. Brown Invited to National Connected Superintendents Summit

    Dr. Luvelle Brown, superintendent of the Ithaca City School District, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the top school leaders from across America to participate in the first-ever National Connected Superintendents Summit Wednesday, November 19, at the White House.

    Superintendent Luvelle Brown is among exemplary local school chiefs who will be recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning. This unique event will bring together officials from throughout America to share with one other and the Education Department promising approaches to using technology in classes.

    “School districts across the country are helping teachers harness the power of technology to create personal learning environments for all students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We want to make sure every child – whether he or she is in the inner-city, in a rural community or on a Native American reservation – has access to knowledge and the chance to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

    The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12-15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress both made and possible by local school districts. The events will also include the unveiling of digital tools that facilitate incorporation of technology into short-term and long-range education planning.

    To help spotlight the value of technology in schools, the Education Department is sponsoring a Future Ready Initiative aimed at showcasing outstanding school leadership and strategies.

    “The Future Ready Initiative highlights the critical role of district leaders in setting a vision and creating the environment where educators and students access the tools, content, and expertise necessary for thriving in a connected world,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology.

    Future Ready superintendents demonstrate effective use of technology in some of the following ways:

    Fostering and leading a culture of collaboration and digital citizenship;
    Transitioning schools and families to high-speed connectivity;
    Empowering educators with professional learning opportunities;
    Accelerating progress toward universal access to quality devices;
    Providing access to quality digital content;
    Creating access, equity, and excellence – particularly in rural, remote, and low-income districts;
    Offering digital tools to students and families to help them prepare for success in college;
    Sharing best practices and mentoring other districts in the transition to digital learning.

    In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, starting with a goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation connectivity within five years. Model schools and districts across the country are using technology to create personalized learning environments; technology will play an increasingly crucial role in the future.

    “Our community invests significant resources in the preparation of its young people for the ever-changing world. I’m honored to be recognized as a national leader and excited that our work serves as a model for others nationwide,” said Dr. Brown.

    http://www.ithacacityschools.org/

    http://tech.ed.gov/superintendentsummit/

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/06/06/what-connected

  8. thanks for your chronicling the never-ending panoply of astroturf organizations formed by Gates to disseminate their message nationwide. did you see this new organization?

    http://k12oercollaborative.org/ About

    The K-12 OER Collaborative =”an initiative led by a group of 11 states with the goal of creating comprehensive, high-quality, open educational resources (OER) supporting K–12 mathematics and English language arts that are aligned with state learning standards. ”

    though it says state learning standards it also says it will be giving our grants with an ” RFP …deeply aligned to the Common Core standards, as outlined by the Publishers’ Criteria. Each unit will be evaluated by educators to ensure that it is rated as “exemplar” in the EQuIP and IMET rubrics.” The grants will be provided through the Learning Accelerator, which was funded originally by Gates & other foundations to push “blended” or online learning . this round of RFPs are said to be worth $15-$20 M.

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