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Bill Gates Is Still Dabbling in Common Core

September 23, 2020

Billionaire Bill Gates doesn’t use the term “common core” much anymore, but he still dabbles.

In 2008, he agreed to bankroll the effort. Over the next several years, in his effort to “release powerful market forces” because “scale is good for free market competition,” Gates spent roughly $200M to cement Common Core as a fixture in American K12 education.

Gates is no longer dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on Common Core. Still, it seems that he feels some obligation or interest or fancy in investigating Common Core “adoption behaviors.” So, in May 2019, Gates paid $250K to the Innosight Institute “to study the adoption behaviors of districts who are now using high quality common core curriculum and better understand their ‘switching behaviors'”:

Innosight Institute Inc

Date:  May 2019

Purpose:  to study the adoption behaviors of districts who are now using high quality common core curriculum and better understand their “switching behaviors”

Amount:  $248,703

Term: 17

Topic: K-12 Education

Program: United States

Grantee Location: Lexington, Massachusetts

Grantee Website:

Innosight Institute was “founded on the theories of Harvard professor Clayton Christiansen,” who is none other than the originator of the idea of “disruptive innovation,” which only sounds like a swell education theory to those who view stability as an expendable nuisance to the business of education:

Disruptive Innovation describes a process by which a product or service initially takes root in simple applications at the bottom of a market—typically by being less expensive and more accessible—and then relentlessly moves upmarket, eventually displacing established competitors.

In other words, Gates wants disruptors to study the “relentless, upmarket move” of a Common Core that “displaced” state-level education standards, not because Common Core was “less expensive and more accessible,” but because he pumped millons into Common Core adoption and promotion.

For Common Core, there was no initial taking root at the bottom of the market. Common Core started at the bilionaire-funded top and descended. Gates himself was the relentless mover of Common Core, and millions of his dollars were the principal vehicle.

As for Gates’ referring to “high quality common core curriculum”:

“High quality” is usually an ed reform sales tag reserved for charter schools and “seats” to selective admission schools

Even Common Core pimp org, the Fordham Institute, did not rate Common Core as better than all state-level standards in its own slanted, 2010 comparison of Common Core to state-level standards. And yet, Gates expects that curriculum tied to a fraudulent Common Core will be “high quality.”

Question: What will Gates do with the disruptive innovator’s findings? Will he revive a push for Common Core? Will he try to “scale” some favored set of “switching behaviors”? Will he congratulate himself for some vestige of Common Core success? 

Or will he simply shrug off lackluster results of yet another Gates-funded imposition that disrupted but did not innovate America’s schools?

Whatever his response, know that he will experience zero accountability for the outcome. It’s how billionaire disruption works.

Bill Gates


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  1. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    This is a great post. The disruptive innovation concept applied to businesses, so it is not surprising that Gates thinks the Common Core is a business PRODUCT not just a set of standards, as initially marketed.
    If you want a good example of disruptive innovation with large scale effects on institutions, look no further than Donald Trump and his loyalists. It is stupid to think that “innovation” is inevitably positive.

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