It was quite some time until Common Core really started to get any kind of air time on TV or in the mainstream media. We owe a debt of gratitude to Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, for his famous comment about “white suburban moms” because he brought a bigger focus to the issues of Common Core. New York State has been in the forefront of Common Core implementation, and our NY State Education Commissioner, John King held meetings in various school districts in the Fall of 2013 to talk about the wonders of Common Core. He met with some angry parents and that generated some more press. John King cancelled meetings to avoid more angry parents, and that generated more press.
Before I go on, can anyone else name any other Secretary of Education since it was established under Jimmy Carter? For those of you in NY, any other Education Commissioner? Me neither.
There are a number of blogs, articles, books (all better then this one) both for and against Common Core. As you start to do your own research, you will come across a few people over and over again. If you are new to understanding the education reform movement, I strongly encourage you to do your own research because truth truly is stranger than fiction.
Pundits will constantly come back to the fact that the Common Core is standards, not curriculum. More than likely, these will be the talking heads from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The folks at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute will tell you that they are not an advocacy group, they are a think tank and they receive grants from various places to think about things, and that they do not have to all think alike. But, if you are watching a TV show with someone promoting the virtues of Common Core, dollars to donuts, it will be an employee of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. It is interesting to peruse the history of grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Thomas B. Fordham institute. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database#q/k=Thomas%20B.%20Fordham%20Institute The early grants have to do with promoting charter schools in Ohio around 2003. This has now sparked my interest, and we will have to look into that at a later time. The reason for the grant for $155,000 is intriguing. Why would state level education advocacy be filed under Global Policy & Advocacy? Probably because the “College Ready” Bucket was allocated…
Date: July 2008
Purpose: to support the activities of an emerging network of state level education advocacy organizations in support of a convening around strategic issues
Topic: Global Policy & Advocacy
The most curious one, at least to me, is the grant for 2013. $1,000,000. For general operating expenses. This is where we start to enter “tin hat territory”. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pretty specific guidelines for grants. What has the Thomas B. Fordham Institute done to warrant a $1,000,000 grant to keep the lights on and make sure the bathrooms are well stocked?
Date: April 2013
Purpose: for general operating support
Topic: Global Policy & Advocacy
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, DC, District of Columbia
Grantee Website: http://www.edexcellence.net
The 2014 grant should be arriving shortly. Stay tuned.