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Education Politics

Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing? 273

Posted by timothy
from the secret-machinations dept.
theodp writes "'I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years,' wrote Bill Gates in a USA Today op-ed last month that challenged the "dangerous misconceptions" of those who oppose the initiative (pretty confident for a guy who conceded there wasn't much to show for his earlier $5B education reform effort!). 'The Gates Foundation helped fund this process,' acknowledged Gates in quite an understatement of his influence. Receiving $6.5M in Gates Grants was Student Achievement Partners, whose founder David Coleman was dubbed the 'Architect of the Common Core.' So it's not too surprising that at last week's SXSWedu, Coleman — now President and CEO of The College Board (no stranger to Gates money itself) — announced a dramatic overhaul of the SAT that includes a new emphasis on evidence-based reading and writing and evidence analysis, which the AJC's Maureen Downey calls 'reflective of the approach of the Common Core State Standards.'" (Read more, below.)
"And over at The Atlantic, Lindsey Tepe reports that the Common Core is driving the changes to the SAT. "Neither Coleman nor the national media," writes Tepe, "have really honed in on how the standards are driving the College Board-as well as the ACT-to change their product." In conjunction with the redesigned SAT, The College Board also announced it would exclusively team with Khan Academy (KA) to make comprehensive, best-in-class SAT prep materials open and free in an effort to level the playing field between those who can and can't afford test prep services. In a conversation with KA founder Sal Khan — aka Bill Gates' favorite teacher and a beneficiary of $10+ million in Gates Foundation grants (much earmarked for Common Core) — Coleman stressed that Khan Academy and CollegeBoard will be the only places in the world that students will be able to encounter free materials for the exam that are "focused on the core of the math and literacy that matters most." "There will be no other such partnerships", Coleman reiterated. Game, set, and match, Gates?"
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Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing?

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:35PM (#46474265) Homepage Journal

    The problem isn't that they have ideas and they spend money on getting those ideas to work. It's that the Gates foundation uses their "leveraging" plans for charity on everything, including more political stuff like education. So they give large gifts with the caveat that both that money, and an even larger chunk of public money be spent on doing things the way the foundation envisions.

    This is great when it comes to eradicating diseases or building infrastructure, because once that's done, areas stay healthy and stable. When it's used on the already pretty-functional US education system, it turns into a "my way or the highway" situation and the plans being advocated by the Gates foundation aren't nearly as evidence based.

    It's problematic.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:54PM (#46474489)

    Common Core is a big thing in NY where I live right now, because the state just voted to suspend its implementation for 2 years. NY already has pretty high standards for high school graduation and, if I'm any indication as a product of it, the curriculum is pretty good too. That doesn't mean that all other states have the same standards, and it seems to me that Common Core was designed to bring all states up to a higher level. As an example, my previous job wanted me to move to Florida, so I played along and did the whole relocation trip thing before telling them, "Sorry." Even the real estate agents who were pushing the place hard told me that my children, if they were smart, would have to be in private school to get a good education...just like Texas, FL values football more than education in high school apparently.

    It seems to me that all the people screaming about how bad this is brought it on themselves. Look at all the press about the evil teachers' unions who have pensions, yearly raises, protect their members and only work 180 days of the year. Also here in NY, there was a big fight to force teachers to be evaluated and ranked like corporate employees get their performance reviews. I'm not a teacher, and I'm totally against that. First off, getting stuck with a class of crappy students can cost you your job, especially early on in your career when you might have to work in a bad school district. Second, teachers are professionals. Once they receive tenure, they should no longer be subject to evaluation and should have a job for life, end of story. Doctors and lawyers aren't stack-ranked -- those of us in private sector jobs who don't like it should fight to get representation.

    Regarding the SAT, I wound up doing much better on the ACT when I took both. The ACT was much closer to what the SAT is slated to become. I remember it focused a lot more on what you were learning in school rather than obscure vocabulary words. I have a horrible time with head-based arithmetic, and the math section of the SAT (when I took it) had no calculators allowed and was basically two 30-minute tests of arithmetic and algebra tricks. I went on to make pretty decent grades at a state university in chemistry, so so much for the predictive factor or SAT scores... :-)

  • Re:Becuz (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @01:14PM (#46474657) Homepage Journal

    But, seriously, we've only solved the universal literacy problem over about the last 50-150 years(depending on when you consider it "solved"),

    Sadly, you are only correct if you are equating "the ability to read (anything)" as literacy. There are states where the functionally illiterate rate is staggering. The figures on the DOE sites are very misleading, since they consider the ability to read "basic prose" to indicate "literacy" - when in reality, the "deeper numbers" indicate "21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read.". The numbers are even worse if one expects an adult to read at what's considered an adult level - someplace decently over 50%.

    and it's made a huge difference for how well society functions.

    The true situation does indeed impact how well society (in this country) works. And we can see that ignorance, lack of education and lack of literacy driving some lunatic policies.

  • by amxcoder (1466081) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @01:35PM (#46474901)
    Basic Literacy and numeracy is not indoctrination, however that's not what Common Core is panning out to be in the real world examples...

    It's being used as a tool to teach Social Justice, Wealth Redistribution, and other Marxist ideals to young kids, and is disguised as a school curriculum.

    One example can be taken from the organization "Radical Math" who provide over 700 lesson plans for CC. With chapter titles that include: “Sweatshop Accounting”, “Racism and Stop and Frisk”, “When Equal Isn’t Fair”, “The Square Root of a Fair Share”, and “Home Buying While Brown or Black”.
    Is THAT basic numeracy? Is that how YOU were taught math?

    Or how about a third grade grammar assignment that has questions/answers like: "3) The choices of a president affect everyone. 4) He makes sure the laws of the country are fair. 5) The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all. 6) The wants of the individual are less important than the well-being of the nation." (article ref: http://www.tpnn.com/2013/11/04... [tpnn.com])
    Like THAT isn't an not only completely false, but outright creepy. Think about the next generation that grows up, and will think this way because it's been engrained in all their school assignments for as long as they can remember. Think they'll push for individual liberty, or become part of the collective?

    These are just two examples I quickly googled up. But examples are popping up all over the place now that parents are starting to see what the kids are bringing home. You have the right to ignore this truth, but you can't dismiss it, it is there.
  • Re:Becuz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday March 13, 2014 @01:56PM (#46475129) Homepage Journal

    Where to begin? Denial of reading the classics. The elimination of poetry and Shakespeare. Replacement with texts designed to limit vocabulary and more importantly, limit thinking. The almost assured dropout rate of at least 34% as the kids too stupid to achieve common core drop out from frustration and the kids too smart for common core drop out from boredom.

    It's likely great for the 68% of the kids in the middle of the bell curve, but universal literacy is not going to be accomplished under it anymore.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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