Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

January 20, 2014

CONFER: Opening the gates to Common Core

Niagara Gazette — Editor’s note: This is the final column in an eight-part series exploring Common Core.

For many, Bill Gates — he of the $67 billion net worth — is looked at as a hero for American education. Through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has invested millions in the development and introduction of the Common Core standards, the latest and allegedly greatest remodeling of teaching as we knew it.

Here is just a sampling of the recipients of his donations to the Common Core cause:

• National Governors Association: This organization was one of the main progenitors of Common Core and most responsible for its integration in 45 states. Gates’ total input to date is $25.7 million.

• The Council of Chief State School Officials: This group counts itself as the only one to bring together the top education leaders from every state in the nation and as equally responsible as the NGA for the launch of Common Core. Gates has donated a whopping $79 million to the CCSSO.

• Achieve, Inc: Considered by Education Week to be one of the most influential education policy organizations in the nation, Achieve, Inc. wrote the Common Core standards. Their reward from Gates? $46 million.

Gates also gave $23.2 million to eight national educational organizations and think tanks, most of which are strong proponents of Common Core. Among the largest recipients are American Federation of Teachers ($5.4 million) and the Council of Great City Schools ($5 million)

While at first blush this looks like the charitable effort of a philanthropist who truly cares about improved outcomes in education, it is not. Instead of altruistic intent, Gates is more likely concerned with an improved outcome for his baby, Microsoft.

Though no longer the CEO, co-founder Gates is still Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect. And, it’s his legacy. Revenues and profits are paramount to him. So, it’s not coincidental that Microsoft — and another new Bill Gates initiative — end up reaping substantial benefit from Common Core.

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