As the proponents of the Common Core stagger into 2016, the sleights-of-hand they use to forward their educational house of cards grow ever more blatant. We have long known that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was the primary funders of Common Core advocacy; now it’s becoming apparent that they also fund the studies that putatively provide some independent support for Common Core. A recent blog post by Richard P. Phelps provides chapter and verse on how the Gates Foundation has funded a Potemkin village of educational research to persuade the public that Common Core actually has some value. As Phelps explains, the Gates Foundation has provided millions of dollars to fund the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Fordham Institute has repaid the Gates Foundation’s generosity by releasing a report, Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments, which repeats Common Core talking points rather than evaluating them. Phelps’ summary is that the Fordham Institute’s report is not so much research as a caricature of it, an apologia for the Common Core disguised as an independent study.
The New Boston Post also provides information about how the Gates Foundation is also seeking to jury-rig the political process:
A lawsuit that aims to prevent Massachusetts voters from weighing in on the controversial Common Core educational standards has backing from people connected to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major sponsor of Common Core.
Since a popular referendum might stop Common Core in its tracks in Massachusetts, the Gates Foundation is seeking by lawfare to keep the referendum off the ballot. The Gates Foundation operates the same way in the political arena as it does in the arena of educational research: it tries to fix a result in advance rather than making its case openly and fairly.
These developments are worth noticing for three reasons. First, as evidence that the proponents of Common Core are remarkably unscrupulous in their efforts to get Common Core imposed on the nation, with all the disastrous knock-on effects that will follow in lowering the educational attainments of students heading off to college. Second, because they demonstrate how education policy generally gets made by an unholy alliance of misguided foundations, putatively independent nonprofit organizations, and government regulation, all of them seeking to squelch independent criticism and the public’s ability to veto their schemes. Third, because they show what straits Common Core’s proponents have gotten to: they can only succeed by cheating.
Common Core is still dangerous, but its proponents’ desperation shows how effective the opposition to them has already been.
Image Credit: Ozzy Delaney, cropped. The NAS does not claim that Mr. Delaney endorses the NAS.