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Here’s a (mostly pictorial) history of Common Core. We will use Colorado as an example but chances are this story will seem very familiar (even 95% similar) to folks in every state.
Colorado is currently reviewing its Common Core aligned Math and ELA standards, which the state adopted in August 2010. Folks in Colorado have been told, repeatedly, that FIRST Colorado updated its academic standards on its own and THEN Common Core Standards showed up in 2010 and happened to be 95% aligned with Colorado’s newly revised Academic Standards. (If you haven’t seen the CC standards in Math and ELA, they are VERY specific; it is remarkable how Colorado, and nearly every other state, just happened to achieve nearly identical standards to the Common Core standards, just by chance.)
Achieve Inc., the reform group whose mission is dedicated to help states with their standards, assessments and accountability systems, is heavily funded (over $50 million) by Bill Gates.
In 2002 Achieve Inc. interviewed these business people to determine necessary workforce skills and benchmarks for high school students:
In 2006, at meeting in San Jose, where they discussed college and career initiatives across the states, Achieve Inc. (Governors and CEOs) also created the ADP- American Diploma Project :
Remember, Achieve Inc’s mission, [from 2006–years before states adopted Common Core, and way before states (in nearly lock-step) began to revise their own state standards], is to help states with their standards, assessments, and accountability systems.
If you turn to page 14 of this 2006 San Jose intro to ADP, they outline their mission and also what they believe the Math and ELA standards should look like.
In 2008, Achieve Inc, CCSSO, NGA issued this Benchmarking for Success report: with the goal for states to upgrade and adopt common core standards, ensure aligned curriculum, aligned assessments, recruit and retrain teachers and hold them accountable, to ensure that schools use the standards.
If we visit this May 2009 ARRA grant application where Colorado finally “won” its federal grant (after failing previously), we see that Colorado received help from Achieve Inc., using the 2009 Achieve Inc. report as a template.
Here is the Achieve Inc 2009 report used to help Colorado win the ARRA grant:
And finally, the Colorado standards sub-committee that was tasked with reviewing and revising Colorado’s academic standards acknowledge that Achieve informed their work.
In other words, Gates funded Achieve Inc., along with CEOs, and many other Gates funded nonprofit organizations (Education Trust, NGA, CCSSO, DQC) FIRST created the standards, THEN advised and helped Colorado, (and other states), to write their standards and grants. Colorado THEN adopted these Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in August 2010, despite receiving 600 letters, like this one, opposing their adoption.
According to the official Common Core State Standards website, the “state-led” Common Core timeline starts in 2007.
However, if you look at actual documents, you see national standards, assessments, accountability, (all hinging on data collection), were created by Achieve Inc. Common Core was not state-led and was coerced, or to use their own words: forced.
Joanne Weiss, former US DoE Chief of RttT, details how they accomplished the $4 billion US education reform effort of Common Core, aptly entitled Competing Principles. She writes,
“First, we forced alignment among the top three education leaders in each participating state—the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education—by requiring each of them to sign their state’s Race to the Top application.”
For further documentation on the history of Common Core, see this timeline of Common Core from Heartland and here. Another documented history of Common Core comes from Mercedes Schneider, More on the Common Core: Achieve, Inc., and Then Some . See yet another review of Common Core by Diane Ravitch. See another very well documented timeline here – put together by a researcher in WA state. Or listen to this fascinating Audio timeline interview – about the history of Common Core ed reform- with David Hornbeck, Senior Consultant to National Business Roundtable and Co-Director of National Alliance for Restructuring Education. Listen to this audio. He lists dates and names of nearly everyone associated.
No matter what side of the political fence you are on, you can see Common Core is not state-led and was planned many years prior to its nation-wide adoption in 2010.
More on Common Core:
Common Core is not “just standards”. “Common Core is so important to the open data movement, because it’s the glue that actually ties everything together.” Common Core is a way to create standardized data on every child, create a database in each state to collect, store, share that personally identifiable data across states. Read the 2005 Bill Gates, US Department of Education’s press release about the launch of the Data Quality Campaign and its 10 original partners (you will see overlap with Gates, DQC, Achieve Inc., America Diploma Project) and you can see the 2005 DQC mission to collect and share common data here.
We urge you to read the original documents, look at the timelines. When presented with facts, it is difficult to see how anyone could argue or believe that Common Core standards were written (without influence, or suggestions, or templates from Achieve Inc. or other reform groups) by local teachers.
It is also important to note: Common Core’s next phase as mentioned in ESSA:
More on the Common Core timeline:
1988 The NGA created The Corporate Fellows Program, which promotes the exchange of information between the private sector and governors
1990 NCEE published The Report of the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. (This codified the principles of outcomes-based education reform, which FAILED, and later became standards-based education reform.)
2002 American Diploma Project created by Achieve Inc. at National Education Summit
2004 American Diploma Project Ready or Not Report- Sets Standards and Assessments Benchmarks for Math and ELA College or Career Success (includes Math and ELA standards and suggested reading lists)
2005 American Diploma Project Preview, video Creating a High School Diploma That Counts
2005 Data Quality Campaign created by 10 organizations (including NGA, CCSSO) goal to create SLDS in every state, to create tagged data standards, data sharing across states. DQC is funded by Gates, managed by NCEE/Tucker
2006 American Diploma Project Report: Cross-State Initiatives to Prepare Students for College and Work
2006 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2006
2007 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2007
2008 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2008
2008 American Diploma Project Report: Algebra II End-Of-Course Exam ADP Algebra II exam, testing consortia of 14 states
2008 Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S.Students Receive aWorld-Class Education
A report by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve,Inc.
2008 Gates issues this report on COST APPROACHES of MEASURING AND/OR ESTIMATING SOCIAL VALUE
2009 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2009
2010 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2010
2011 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2011
2012 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2012
2013 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2013
2014 American Diploma Project Report: Closing the Expectations Gap 2014
Just like NCLB, states do NOT have to adopt the mandates in ESSA. Urge your state to do a cost analysis of how much federal money they receive for education (see this table, it is often less than 10% of the total education budget). Ask for a fiscal accounting of how much money is currently spent to meet federal mandates on assessment, accountability and compare this cost to ESSA mandates. Then, see if there would be a savings to the state to define their own education needs, not jump through federal ESSA hoops. At the very least, states should develop their OWN challenging standards and assessments, and according to ESSA, they don’t have to be common.