The Common Core Chuztpah of Bill Gates & CCSSO
During the Washington Post’s March 2014 interview with Bill Gates, reporter Lyndsey Layton asked him what he thought about being called “the unelected superintendent of the country”. Gates did not appreciate such a question and insisted Layton was making the interview political vs substantive. Perhaps he had second thoughts about that title. Has he now decided being the nation’s superintendent would be an appropriate job for him since he has invested heavily in the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative? The NY Times writes that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has decreed:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the country’s largest donors to educational causes and a strong backer of the academic guidelines known as the Common Core, has called for a two-year moratorium on states or school districts making any high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new standards.
The Common Core, originally adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia and supported by the Obama administration, was devised by a group of educators and experts convened by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Over the past three years, teachers have scrambled to adapt classroom curriculums to the new guidelines — reading and math standards for pupils from kindergarten to high school. Some states, including Kentucky and New York, have already rolled out new standardized tests aligned with the standards, while many other states tried out tests this spring.
In an open letter, Vicki Phillips, the director of education for the Gates Foundation, wrote that “the best new ideas aren’t self-fulfilling; they have to be put into practice wisely.”
She added: “No evaluation system will work unless teachers believe it is fair and reliable, and it’s very hard to be fair in a time of transition. The standards need time to work. Teachers need time to develop lessons, receive more training, get used to the new tests and offer their feedback.”
The CCSSO was quick to declare that in fact, he is NOT the nation’s superintendent and does not have the authority to tell states what to do (are you holding your sides in laughter?):
Can you say MAJOR TRAIN WRECK? The Foundation which has paid in excess of $200 Million for standards PR used by the Chamber of Commerce, The Fordham Foundation, PTA, AFT, NEA and other organizations probably believes it has the ultimate say in how public education should be structured since it paid a lot of money for that ability. The CCSSO is scrambling to maintain any semblance of protecting the right of each state to direct its educational direction/development by refuting this statement from Gates.
Sorry, Mr. Minnich. You can’t have it both ways. Policy decisions by legislatures about educational development and delivery have been circumvented since the adoption of CCSSI in 2009 by the governors, state education departments and boards. Why should policy decisions about test moratoriums all of a sudden revert to the states? He says: Every state should be thoughtful about how to evaluate teachers and look at a timeline that is best for the students in their state.
I have two words: SINCE WHEN? The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund agreement clearly lays out that states must create teacher evaluation procedures acceptable to the USDOEd to receive funding. CCSSO itself published this about teacher evaluations and accountability measures:
Aug 1, 2012 – Specifically, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) …. This comprehensive toolkit provides a timeline and resources related to transitioning to the …. of a drop in test scores on Tennessee’s state assessment.
Implementation of the Common Core State Standards calls for systems alignment that creates clarity for teachers and seamless transitions for students. The early childhood, K-12, and higher education communities in states must collaborate to create aligned, coherent systems that demonstrate a logical progression of learning that prepares all students for success. Similarly, accountability systems, teacher and principal preparation, educator licensure, professional development, and educator evaluation policies and practices must be aligned to and consistent with the Common Core State Standards in order to avoid conflicting messages to educators.
What is going on here? How can CCSSO state on one hand that Every state should be thoughtful about how to evaluate teachers while at the same time it also writes educator evaluation policies and practices must be aligned to and consistent with the Common Core State Standards? How can a private non-governmental organization, The Gates Foundation, call for a two-year moratorium on states or school districts making any high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new standards? What power does this Foundation have over state educational agencies? Does Bill Gates really believe he is the nation’s unelected superintendent and the Foundation is the nation’s School Board supporting his decisions?
The chutzpah of the pro reformers is getting more surreal every day. Are we witnessing the beginning of the implosion of the paper tiger known as Common Core? Are the lies and inconsistencies finally going to doom this “state led” initiative?