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Education Trust: Profoundly Gates-funded, Test-driven-reform Machine

January 5, 2015

Over the past two years, I have researched scores of public-education-influencing organizations regarding their funding from the Gates Foundation. A number of corporate-reform-promoting nonprofits have accepted Gates money “for general operating support,” which means that Gates is literally paying these organizations in order to keep them in business.

My January 4, 2015, search on “general operating support” on the Gates grants search engine yielded 1000 results, which means 1000 grants paid, with multiple grants paid to some organizations.


Gates is increasing his reach by purchasing additional arms.

The Gates Foundation clearly states on its website, “We do not make grants outside our funding priorities.” Thus, for Gates to foot the bill for a public-education-influencing organization’s payroll, rent, and utilities must mean that the declared agenda of said organization complements the Gates education agenda, which is top-heavy with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and evaluating teachers using CCSS-related tests– but he is willing to put off evaluating teachers using those CCSS tests– for now. (How nice of him.)

For all of the corporate reform nonprofits that I have researched for accepting Gates operating support money, none has exceeded the millions Gates has paid to Education Trust.

Education Trust was founded by Katherine “Kati” Haycock in the 1990s. The organization was granted nonprofit status in 1997. Haycock advocates for “closing achievement gaps” via test-driven reform. She is a longtime supporter of test-driven, “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014” No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (also see here and here and here and here).

In fact, Haycock’s Ed Trust was involved in writing NCLB.

Between September 2004 and March 2014, the Gates Foundation has paid Education Trust $30.7 million for “general operating support.”

Total Gates funding to Education Trust as of January 2015 is $49.1 million.

Furthermore, Education Trust is the “parent” nonprofit to Data Quality Campaign, which received $1.3 million from Gates for “general operating support” in November 2012 and a total of $13 million between 2008 and 2013. Ed Trust is also nonprofit “parent” to the US Education Delivery Institute, which Gates paid $3.2 million in start-up money in April 2010 “implement plans to increase college readiness and post secondary completion rates nationally”– launguage that sure sounds like payment for CCSS implementation in anticipation of the June 2010 “official” CCSS launch. US Ed Delivery Institute has received a total of $9.1 million from Gates between 2010 and 2013.

(Ed Trust’s status as “direct controlling entity” nonprofit to three other nonprofits can be found on 990 Schedule R, Part II– for an example, see page 26 3of this US Ed deliv Institute FY 2012 990.)

Education Trust was instrumental in creating NCLB, which was supposed to pressure states into educational equity as demonstrated via standardized test scores.

It’s now 2015. NCLB failed.

High-stakes pressure does not improve learning opportunities for children. It only motivates those pressured into fashioning (often unethical) release valves.

In the case of test-driven reform, the “good” test takers will win every time. These tend not to be the children of color for whom Haycock purports to advocate.

NCLB did not deliver on its 2014, high-stakes-test-centered promise, yet Haycock is pleased that US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to lock states into NCLB waivers beyond 2016 so that states are held to “federal accountability on all groups of children.”

Haycock really believes that test-driven, federally-promoted, punitive “reform” will close achievement gaps.

It should come as no surprise that Haycock has been a promoter of CCSS before it officially existed.

I have written in depth on Haycock and her Education Trust in my upcoming book on the history, development, and promotion of CCSS, so I will not go into great detail here. I will note that Haycock believes that CCSS will somehow “close the gaps.” NCLB couldn’t do it, but CCSS somehow will. And yes, she and her Ed Trust were on the inside of the CCSS promotion. Here is Haycock in a September 2009 press release (note that CCSS was not completed until June 2010):

WASHINGTON (September 21, 2009)–The Common Core Standards Initiative has set the right goal: Get to consistent, high standards that prepare all students, regardless of their zip code, for education beyond high school.

“College ready” and “career ready” are synonymous. That means that the kind of rigorous, college-prep curriculum that was traditionally reserved for a select few is now a basic requirement for everyone. In today’s world, it’s critical for every student in America to have a strong, rigorous academic foundation. This is especially true for the low-income students and students of color whom our schools have underserved for generations.

And young Americans have gotten the message. In fact, they are doing more in high school–taking tougher classes, getting higher grades – than their peers of a decade ago, but they still find themselves placed in remedial courses in college to learn what they should have learned in high school. That suggests a lack of alignment between what their high schools have been teaching them and what is expected of them once they get to college or career training programs.

The Common Core Standards effort marks the first time the K-12 community has stepped up and said, unequivocally, “College readiness is the goal for all students.” I applaud the nation’s governors, state chief school officers, and all of their partners for taking this giant leap forward in the effort to prepare all of America’s students for the opportunities that lie ahead.

Haycock just knew CCSS would work.

That same month as the above press release– September 2009– Education Trust received $2 million from Gates “to develop a set of open-source literacy courses that align to the Common Core State Standards.”

CCSS was not completed, but in Haycock’s mind, it was going to work, and Gates was already paying Ed Trust to create CCSS-aligned (??) curriculum.

Of course, CCSS co-owner, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) President Gene Wilhoit and CCSS English language arts (ELA) “lead writer” David Coleman had already asked Gates to bankroll CCSS in summer 2008.

Haycock has been a key figure in both NCLB writing/promotion and CCSS promotion; so, a logical question is, Who is Kati Haycock?

The single best article I found to answer that question is from the September 9, 1990, Chicago Tribune, written by freelance journalist Darlene Gavon Stevens.

The article begins, “She has never been a teacher….”

That seems to be the way it goes with test-driven reform. Haycock is a policy person. She holds a bachelors in political science and a masters in educational policy.

Given the multiple millions Haycock’s Education Trust has accepted from Gates, and given her non-teacher, political-insider influence in promoting test-driven reform, the following 1990 Haycock excerpt smacks ironic:

After graduating [from the University of California at Santa Barbara] in 1971, I went to work at the state capital, lobbying to turn around a very hostile legislative view of (college) students.

That experience was enough to tell me I did not want to hold public office. Seeing firsthand the life of a policy maker-at least at the state level-and looking at the process so sickened me that I decided there were better ways to make a difference. Decisions were made not on the basis of what made sense, but on the basis of who paid what. [Emphasis added.]

In 1990, Haycock states that she sees herself as “someone outside the system” who is able to assist children of color for that very reason.

Problem is, she is now a heavily-Gates-funded brick in the wall of test-driven reform.

She has become “the system.” Given her continued push for top-down, test-driven pressure on states to “prove” a papier-mache form of “equality of opportunity” via ever-elusive, gap-closing test scores, it seems that Haycock is unaware of her role in perpetrating a failing system.

Test score worship cannot create equality of opportunity. It can only sabotage.

In that 1990 article, Haycock asks this question:

How do you design a wonderful, model curriculum and make sure all schools implement it?

The problem is with the question. The idea of “making” schools implement curriculum designed by some “you” is top-down.

Change absent “bottom-up” investment is not genuine change and will never succeed for that reason.

One positive for Haycock is that she will never be out of a job:

So long as she insists upon top-down, test-driven reform, she will forever have a “gap” to try to “close.”


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

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  1. ColoMom permalink

    Mercedes, wow. Thank you for this post…and for revealing a whole new layer of the common core onion. How nice that the parent company of DQC promotes testing (online of course) and receives money from Gates to do so. Can’t thank you enough for what you do…and can’t wait for book number two!

  2. I would love for you to reseaarch what I think is the real reason Gates is putting so much of his money behind Common Core. I believe it was the trade off for keeping the federal government from breaking up Microsoft. If you look back to when the feds were threatening to break up Microsoft and the events to follow you will be able to connect the dots. And Microsoft never was broken up now were they???

  3. Laura chapman permalink

    Colomom, the Data Quality Campaign is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gates,started in 2005 and in tandem with the USDE funding for teacher student data links. Mercedes has again shown there is one power who puts Money in the pockets of people who do his bidding.

  4. Tiffany permalink

    Your knowledge empowers the people and allows us to see the real reasons Common Core is being heavily pushed….$$$$$$$$

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