Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Behind the big money flowing into Common Core

The Common Core market is booming, especially for the tech companies and textbook and testing companies. Perhaps that is why self-interested and connected companies as well as power philanthropists like Bill Gates, are investing so heavily in it.

In the Dec. 10th Answer Sheet column in the Washington Post, ("Millions in private money poured into Common Core promotion") award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York, documents the flow of private funding being used to promote Common Core Standards.

Among its biggest financial backers is The Committee for Economic Development (CED), a business-led, non-profit think tank that has education reform as a project. According to its website, CED exists to deliver “well researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues.”

OED CEO Steve Odland
The CEO of CED is Steve Odland. Odland committed the organization to a two-year pledge to make sure that everyone understands the Common Core standards and to ensure that business leaders have what they need to support their implementation.

Writes Burris:
Mr. Odland, the former CEO of Auto Zone (2001-2005) and Office Depot (2005-2010), resigned from Office Depot in 2010, a week after the company announced it settled a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation for more than a million dollars. Odland himself agreed to pay a $50,000 fine without admitting or denying the findings. As the CEO of the Committee on Economic Development he now advises the nation on issues like the Common Core and teacher quality. Odland also blogs for Forbes about what to do on a “staycation,” and to express his concern for the people he sees who do not look healthy when walking around the malls.
As for Gates,
...The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the CED $865,593 to promote the Common Core. To put this donation in perspective, in 2012, the Committee for Economic Development received a little more than $3.5 million in total contributions for their work. For this think tank, this contribution from Gates (and it is not the first that they have received) is a substantial infusion of cash. The CED is hardly alone.  The Gates Foundation has given in excess of $173.5 million to promote the Common Core standards to an astounding number of organizations.  In New York, the Gates Foundation has contributed $3.3 million to the Regents Research Fund to support a think tank known as the Regents Fellows. 
Chancellor Merryl Tisch
Other contributors to the fund include the foundation of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch ($1 million), Regent Charles Bendit ($100,000) as well as millions from the General Electric, Tortora Sillicox Family and Ford Foundations.  Others donors to the Regents Research fund that supports the Fellows are New York City charities, The Robin Hood Foundation and the Tiger Foundation. Robin Hood and Tiger generously give to charter schools, including Uncommon Charters, the chain formerly led by New York State Education Commissioner John King.  The National Charter School Authorizers made a $135,000 contribution to the Regents Research Fund as well.

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