SAN FRANCISCO – Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates probably expected to be praised as the savior of public education when he decided to bankroll Common Core, but instead he’s being denounced by many as a self-important busybody who is playing at being an education expert.
The newest voice in the chorus of critics is Michael Mazenko, a writer for the left-wing news site Salon.com.
In a new column, Mazenko chronicles how Gates “became the sugar daddy and primary backer of the Common Core State Standards,” a set of nationalized learning objectives designed to synchronize teaching and learning throughout U.S. classrooms.
Mazenko summarizes the Washington Post’s recent exposé of Gates’ involvement in foisting the Common Core experiment onto schools in more than 40 states, and offers this stinging indictment: “He is … a billionaire who believes his wealth and business success qualify him to set education policy.”
The writer even discusses Gates’ financial motivation for imposing uniformity onto public education:
“The underreported story about Common Core is the millions of dollars to be made in developing and selling educational materials and assessments linked to the new standards. Despite claims by Common Core advocates that standards are not curriculum, school districts are realizing they need to spend money on new materials and training to meet the new expectations of the standards, especially if schools are required to use standardized assessments to measure student growth and teacher accountability. Without doubt, the implementation of Common Core will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the U.S. Department of Education has already given $350 million to education companies like Pearson to develop curriculum and assessments. Clearly, the Common Core has been incredibly lucrative for businesses while the benefit to students remains dubious at best.”
Mazenko believes the pushback against Common Core is due to Gates’ failure to test, pilot, and evaluate the standards “before selling (them) to an unsuspecting public.”
“It’s time for Gates to drop this obsession and move on to the next one,” Mazenko concludes.
It wouldn’t be the first time Gates has miscalculated in his quest to transform America’s education system.
“Gates poured more than $600 million into his ‘small schools campaign,’ only to later concede he was wrong and the idea was virtually fruitless. While that doesn’t seem to bother a man who can literally waste billions of dollars, it’s more disturbing to hear him admit, ‘We won’t even know if it will work.’ Playing so frivolously with institutions like public education should not be so easy.”