Common Core Corporate Reform Higher Education Standardized Testing

Paul Horton: Common Core=Corporate Control

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Paul Horton, history teacher at the University of Chicago Lab School, got exasperated about the steady stream of articles endorsing the Common Core in the Chronicle of Higher Education. So he wrote a letter warning the professoriate not to buy the corporate-funded CC propaganda. The letter should have been published as an opinion piece.

An excerpt:

“1. They are the product of a push by private foundations acting in the interest of multinational corporations to colonize public education in the United States and in other areas projected be developed as core production and assembly areas in the emerging global economy. A recent Washington Post article using a well-placed source within the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation essentially confirmed what many critics have suspected: that Bill Gates effectively controls the Department of Education in the United States through his former employees who serve in leadership positions within the Department of Education.

Our education secretary also does a lot of listening to Michael Barber of Pearson Education. Although Mr. Gates and Sir Michael, as well as other reformers, are doubtless well intentioned, they view the colonization of K-12 education in this country and elsewhere as a “win-win.” In their view, the quality of education will improve with greater accountability, and they will make billions creating and delivering accountability for students, teachers, and education schools.

To implement their plan, they are willing to jettison all ideas of collective responsibility for public education in a classic privatization pincer move: Chicago School of Economics ideas of “free choice” and “free markets” are used to legitimate privatization through virtual control of the editorial boards of major papers—the Murdoch chain, the Tribune chain, The Washington Post (now run by a neoliberal libertarian), and The New York Times—as well as center-liberal media like PBS and NPR. Money is funneled into NPR and PBS by organizations that support privatizing school reform in the name of “support for education programing.”

A Gates-funded Washington consulting firm, GMMB, works 24/7 to sell the Common Core Standards and all other elements of the Race to the Top mandates that call for more charter schools, a standardized-testing regime, and value-added assessments of teachers based on this testing regime. Likewise representatives of the Washington-based Fordham Institute work together with GMMB to send weekly talking points to major editorial boards and education reporters to ensure that representatives from an “independent foundation” are relentlessly quoted.

Not surprisingly, the Fordham Institute is hardly independent, and is heavily subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Michael Bloomberg, and the Broad Foundation, and many more funders of privatizing education. While GMMB attempts to control the discourse in the country’s major media outlets (Arne Duncan’s past press secretary is helping to coordinate this propaganda campaign within GMMB), McKinsey sells Microsoft and Pearson packages to fit the Race to the Top mandates.

The Los Angeles Independent Schools boondoggle that packed Pearson Common Core Curriculum lessons within Microsoft tablets and software is the wave of the future. Districts are sold packages that they cannot afford to comply with federal mandates that are pushed by private multinational corporations. What I am attempting to describe is the tip of a corporate iceberg that amounts to corporate control of education policy with very little participation of classroom teachers, parents, or school boards.

The idea that the Common Core Standards are the product of a democratic process is simply misrepresentation of fact—a big lie that GMMB, our education secretary, Bill Gates, Pearson Education, and the Fordham Institute propagate. What many rightfully be called corporate-education reform has bypassed the democratic process. For this reason alone, university faculty and administrators should not support the Common Core Curriculum and the Race to the Top.”

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