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How Obama Instituted Common Core on the Sly

It seems like the new Common Core educational standards suddenly appeared out of nowhere, doesn’t it? All of a sudden, every kid was getting a Common Core education. The whole thing just materialized before we got a chance to think about it!

Obama DuncanIt seems that way, right? Well, that’s because it is that way. By design.

Through a combination of lavish spending by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and swift movement by the Obama administration, the Common Core standards that have now become so controversial were instituted pretty much before anyone knew what was happening. And of course – this is the Obama administration we’re talking about – without the cumbersome, annoying intrusion of democratic processes.

That’s the point of a superb article published recently in the Washington Post. Here’s what happened, according to the Post:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes . . .

Money flowed to policy groups on the right and left, funding research by scholars of varying political persuasions who promoted the idea of common standards . . .

President Obama seized the opportunity to push something through without congressional input. Gates’ influence permeated the administration.

While the Gates Foundation created the burst of momentum behind the Common Core, the Obama administration picked up the cause and helped push states to act quickly . . .

Several top players in Obama’s Education Department who shaped the administration’s policies came either straight from the Gates Foundation in 2009 or from organizations that received heavy funding from the foundation.

Before becoming education secretary in 2009, Arne Duncan was chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, which received $20 million from Gates to break up several large high schools and create smaller versions, a move aimed at stemming the dropout rate.

As secretary, Duncan named as his chief of staff Margot Rogers, a top Gates official he got to know through that grant . . .

They figured out a scheme that avoided a lot of scrutiny, avoided Congress, and avoided the law.

Duncan and his team leveraged stimulus money to reward states that adopted common standards.

They created Race to the Top, a $4.3 billion contest for education grants. Under the contest rules, states that adopted high standards stood the best chance of winning. It was a clever way around federal laws that prohibit Washington from interfering in what takes place in classrooms. It was also a tantalizing incentive for cash-strapped states.

The Gates Foundation gave $2.7 million to help 24 states write their Race to the Top application, which ran an average of 300 pages, with as much as 500 pages for an appendix that included Gates-funded research . . .

Before you knew it, Common Core was everywhere:

The result was astounding: Within just two years of the 2008 Seattle meeting (between Gates and Common Core developers), 45 states and the District of Columbia had fully adopted the Common Core State Standards . . .

Remember when you got a chance to contact your state legislator about his or her vote on Common Core? Don’t remember? That’s because YOU DIDN’T:

And yet, because of the way education policy is generally decided, the Common Core was instituted in many states without a single vote taken by an elected lawmaker. Kentucky even adopted the standards before the final draft had been made public . . .

A process that typically can take five years was collapsed into a matter of months.

“You had dozens of states adopting before the standards even existed, with little or no discussion, coverage or controversy,” said Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute . . .

The movement grew so quickly and with so little public notice that opposition was initially almost nonexistent. That started to change last summer, when local tea party groups began protesting what they viewed as the latest intrusion by an overreaching federal government . . .

America’s children have been made guinea pigs for a scientific experiment that Gates and Obama thought looked good.

“Usually, there’s a pilot test — something is tried on a small scale, outside researchers see if it works, and then it’s promoted on a broader scale,” said Sarah Reckhow, an expert in philanthropy and education policy at Michigan State University.. “That didn’t happen with the Common Core. Instead, they aligned the research with the advocacy. . . . At the end of the day, it’s going to be the states and local districts that pay for this.”

And Gates stands to profit:

Some liberals are angry, too, with a few teacher groups questioning Gates’s influence and motives. Critics say Microsoft stands to benefit from the Common Core’s embrace of technology and data — a charge Gates vehemently rejects . . .

Gates grew irritated in the interview when the political backlash against the standards was mentioned. “These are not political things,” he said. “These are where people are trying to apply expertise to say, ‘Is this a way of making education better?’” . . .

Note the typically leftist, statist assumption at the heart of Gates’ comment. THE EXPERTS KNOW BEST. Voters don’t need to think about this. We’ll figure it out for you. It’s not political.

Well, everything is political. Otherwise it’s anti-democratic. And as with all such five-year-plan thinking, we may be headed for trouble:

Tom Loveless, a former Harvard professor who is an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution, said the Common Core was “built on a shaky theory.” He said he has found no correlation between quality standards and higher student achievement.

“Everyone who developed standards in the past has had a theory that standards will raise achievement, and that’s not happened,” Loveless said.

Common Core’s very pervasiveness is helping it become entrenched:

The standards have become so pervasive that they also quickly spread through private Catholic schools. About 100 of 176 Catholic dioceses have adopted the standards because it is increasingly difficult to buy classroom materials and send teachers to professional development programs that are not influenced by the Common Core, Catholic educators said.

Today, people have caught on. But the White House has been effective in the way the Left often is. As with Obamacare – and much of the Welfare Statte itself – the principle holds that it is much more difficult to abolish government programs than it is to prevent them from being established in the first place.

Common Core opponents will have to remove it state by state, and book by book. Like many other messes created by Obama, the stains may prove intractable.

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36 Responses to How Obama Instituted Common Core on the Sly

  1. Everyone who has a grade school child needs to pull an example of a CC math problem, how it is taught. Than they need to plan to sit down with their child and teach them the Old School methods of leaning math problems.
    The math problems I saw, I compared to a jig saw puzzle. It did not teach the how basics. So when its time to learn the next math lesson it will be hard, because they don’t quite understand the BASIC formulation. I hope I explained that well enough.
    Thank Keith for posting this aritcle. We can always count on you to keep up with everything….

    • That’s not the answer. In the 1960’s they came up with a new way to teach math. I could not understand algebra. Daddy, the engineer taught me algebra, the good-old-fashioned way. The problem was, when I turned in my homework, and took the tests, I did it daddy’s way. I got an F, because I didn’t do it “correctly”. I got the right answers, but didn’t use the right “method”. In the 1990’s, a young man I know, who is very good with numbers, flunked algebra, because he couldn’t show his work the way the teacher wanted it.

  2. It’s amazing to me how these techies (and I have known a few of the biggies) with money now think they are qualified to solve the educational, political and social ills of the world.

    Heck if it were up to Eric Schmidt he would be King of the World, and the world would be so much the worse if that happened.

    As for Common Core, I don’t know. But I do know that I have some family members who I love like crazy but you sit next to them at dinner and you cannot understand a thing they are saying. Connection to how the world works, tentative at best.

  3. Sorry, I don’t even understand what it is or how it’s better than what was being taught.
    All I’ve seen of actual homework or tests show a confusing rounding of numbers that isn’t what today’s economy requires.

      • I saw a video of a CC math problem, & some preschool math. I had a hard enough time grasping math as a child in the 60’s & 70’s. This new way is a convoluted mess, including the way it has been forced upon students. And parents! How are they expected to help with homework?

  4. That’s why there are parents who are against this method coming from above. In the district where I live in California, they got rid of another program that cost a lot of dollars, probably close to a million, for this new one. The same in other districts with Common Core.
    I taught h.s. for 34 years and every four or five years there was another “new” thing to teach the core courses.
    I work as a substitute teacher at present and still see kids in h.s. who haven’t learned their basics in elementary, have limited vocabulary, teachers constantly pulled out of the classroom for more and more training. It’s unbelievable the number of days these teachers have to meet during school hours instead of being in the classroom. This is the cost in hours of this constant revision, change, discarding one method, adopting another. But the length of the school year is not lengthened to account for the days lost to workshops.

    • My hat off to you and any teacher.
      The dicipline was taken away more and more for years.
      I talked in class, etc. However when I was corrected, I stopped.
      There was no way I wanted to tell my mom I had to see the prinicple or stay for a detention.
      A friend of mine in school quite teaching, because she could not handle third grade kids cursing her. No dicipline to those children. The kids know!!!
      So bottom line put the dicipline back. Help the kids that need help.

    • I do not know but when I talk with friends of mine who are or have been teachers, to a person they say that when inadequately performing students, particularly those with language or other barriers are placed in a classroom and accommodated at the expense of students without these bariers ,learning slows to that level and attention remains there.

      I suspect this has always been the case, but the population of students with barriers has increased, discipline is almost impossible, and there are few if any standards for achievement. Common core most likely only adds to these problems.

  5. Off topic. Just learned on Fox, that:
    No MSM covered the missing emails though Saturday.
    Can anyone think of any news party from the MSM that did cover Watergate? If Nixon thought that the MSM would cover Baloney instead of Watergate he would have not had a worry in the world!

  6. I think that it would change many of the lawmakers minds about common core if they were challenged to take the exams themselves. Critical thinking is important – but our kids need to learn the basics first. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic are the basic subjects that need to be learned long before being subjected to the common core critical thinking method. Because 2 + 2 = 4 and that is the only correct answer. This world is black and white, correct or incorrect, right or wrong. If you can’t answer correctly how can you succeed in life.

  7. The Progressive statists haven’t been able to succeed completely in their goal of eliminating all opposition to their re-education camps so they simply turned to one of their favored billionaires for help and he came through for them.

    They know all of their experiments on using children as their guinea pigs have failed to turn 100% of them into robotic clones of Obama and Hitlery so they just keep trying.

  8. Like Obamacare it will be undone slowly. How many of our tax dollars have gone into someone’s pockets over this? Bill Gates didn’t foot the whole bill.

  9. As a former educator, I will continue to work night and day against ‘common core’ throughout the Nation. That is my mission!

    From the comments I have read, each writer expresses frustration that teachers, who are also parents, are experiencing with CC!

    Bill Gates is super wealthy, but he is NOT an educator. With his money, he heavily promoted CC by attending numerous meetings of school superintendents, of principles, and of state governors! In turn, the members of those organizations promoted CC.

    Their mistake is that they trusted that the CC standards would meet rigorous and comprehensive scrutiny of educational experts and researchers before massive implementation across the country!

    The ‘Washington Post’ reporters, I hope, will interview some of the most respected researchers and CC panelists whose objections and written opinions as to how the standards were developed without the necessary research were, in fact, ‘excluded’ from the so-called ‘final report’ that boasted that 100% of the committee members approved of Common Core Standards! Not exactly the TRUTH!

    My Master’s Degree is in Curriculum Development. My work included Professional Development for Teachers – teaching strategies and techniques to teachers to most effectively educate each individual child!

    Common Core = one size fits all mentality! Children are NOT like factory ‘nuts and bolts’ which are produced in mass. Common Core standards and data collection for ‘tracking’ students at early ages are an AFFRONT to me and a dis-service to the children and their parents.

    That’s why I do not teach after 35 years, and I am working against the ‘Gov’t Intrusion into Education’ known as Common Core! I have written many governors, explained how they were ‘used’, and asked them to do their own research and even ‘apologize’ to their citizens.

    That has put me on the ‘hate list’ of all, except 3 of the 9 I have contacted. That will not stop me! Contact your own state ‘Stop Common Core’ webpage and volunteer, NOW. Thanks! jb

    • PS The millions of dollars school districts patrons will pay for Common Core testing materials to be used with computers – all developed by the technology giants is disturbing because so much personal data will be collected about your child and their family, etc., etc.!

  10. Get real Repugs started Common Core.
    Governors and state education officials created the standards in response to concerns that American students were falling behind those from other countries and that companies weren’t able to find workers with basic skills in math and reading, Perdue said.

    By Renee Schoof
    McClatchy Washington Bureau May 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON — Five Republican former governors who supported the Common Core from its creation during the Bush administration said Wednesday that disinformation from conservatives threatened to highjack the higher standards for what students should be able to accomplish in each grade.

    “I’m a believer that facts ultimately prevail among most reasonable people,” said former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who helped lead the development of the standards and continues to support them. “I think it’s incumbent on us to speak out and defeat rumors and innuendo and allegations with facts about how the Common Core began, what its purpose is and how we believe it can be positive for American society.”

    He said he was puzzled by the criticism from the right.

    “I don’t know how in America you can be against higher standards,” he said.

    Critics call the standards a national curriculum and a federal takeover of education. The governors at the gathering said they were neither.

    The federal government wasn’t involved in developing the standards. The Obama administration later gave states credit for adopting higher standards in its Race to the Top grants program.

    That was a mistake, said former Michigan Gov. John Engler, now president of the Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs who promote economic growth. But Obama had nothing to do with developing the standards, he said.

    “By the time he was elected, it was all done.”

    The standards spell out what students should learn year by year, but leave decisions about books and lesson plans up to the states and local districts.

    “If we fail to implement the Common Core and go back to the drawing board again, there’s going to be another generation that falls further behind internationally,” said former Hawaii Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

    Parents are right to complain about curricula or tests they don’t like, Lingle said. “But that’s not what the Common Core is.”

    But growing political criticism has resulted in challenges to the standards in eight states. In addition, Indiana has dropped the standards.

    South Carolina, for instance, in April withdrew from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups that have developed tests for the standards. In Missouri, the Republican-led legislature passed a bill to develop standards to replace the Common Core. It’s pending before Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

    In North Carolina, House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November, said in April that he favored repealing the standards. But in May he said a full repeal may not reach a vote during the current session and that more study was needed.

    A resolution by the Republican National Committee called Common Core “an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.”

    Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said supporters “fell in love with an abstraction and gave barely a thought to implementation.”

    The criticism has entered comedy as well.

    Louis C.K. tweeted in April: “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!”

    And on “Late Show with David Letterman,” talking about helping his daughters with math, the comedian said, “I look at the problems and it’s like Bill has three goldfish, he buys two more. How many dogs live in London. Or something like that.”

    “There are crazy examples, but they’re not in the Common Core,” former Republican Gov. James H. Douglas of Vermont said at the Chamber of Commerce event. “We’re talking about a level of achievement, not the specifics of how it’s obtained.”

    Engler said that polls show that when people are informed about what the standards are, support for them is strong. The Higher State Standards Partnership, a joint effort of the Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups, recently aired an ad on FOX News in support of the Common Core.

    Engler said they ran it there because research showed most opposition was from conservatives. The ad just ended after running for more than two months at a cost of what Engler said was “a couple million dollars.”

    In the ad, teachers say the Common Core is “a new plan for higher standards” that will teach students to “apply knowledge and critical thinking,” rather than rely mainly on memorization.

    • Brad, If you are an educator or not, you will agree with me and some of those you quote, that implementing ‘higher standards’ in education is challenging and worthwhile!

      However, CC does not raise standards across the nation’s states. In numerous cases, the CC standards are lower than state adopted educationally researched state standards already in place. Many thousands of school districts within each state have adopted at the local level even more rigorous requirements.

      Parents and teachers serve tirelessly on state and on local school boards and national associations for education and businesses. Their experiences with CC, as well as mine, are critical to assessing the critical concerns with CC.

      It has been ‘piloted’ with millions of children, and the expert analysis of those even much more qualified than I am, are aware of the glaring across the board flaws! The negative impact is quite astounding, and absolutely requires ‘remediation’ immediately.

      All of the information you wrote in your response sounds very admirable, and CC was presented as the ‘answer’ to educational woes. But, CC is creating, everyday, schools that ‘don’t work’ and far too much time has been wasted on arguing the merits of ‘one size fits all’ mentality. My hope is that you will give credit to the educational researchers work and recommendations.

      You are, obviously, a bright and well-versed individual. My challenge to you is to use your skills to investigate more thoroughly. You can access the CC standards for yourself. Remove yourself from ‘group think’ and gather feed-back from educators in the schools. That takes time, but if your goal is to be informed and inform others, then find the time. You will be glad you did! jb

  11. I recently stood behind high school students taking a practice math test based on common core. As I walked behind the students, I observed the following: Confusion about the content of the question (What is being asked?), Confusion about how the author wanted the question answered (How should I answer this question?), and Confusion about how to answer the question using keys on a computer keyboard and the “mouse” to input data for the answer. In addition, I observed a lack of basic understanding of math, mainly algebra 1, that caused students to hesitate when answering each question. As you may already know, questions get harder as students answer question correctly and get easier as students answer questions incorrectly leading to a normalized assessment of a students knowledge over the population of students taking the assessment at a given grade level. Analysis of this assessment data can only result in one of two things: a school is either getting positive learning results from their student population or negative learning results from their student population. My question is: What will a school district do if a school is getting negative results from a common core assessment at a given grade level when the school has very little influence over the types of student enrolled in the school and their math background coming into the school?

  12. His pathetic effort to “dumb everyone down” to the level of “his people” rather than try to bring his people up to near the level of Orientals & Whites !