MEDIA WATCH: A Once-Respected Education Journal Goes Rah Rah for Whatever Bill Wants... How Eli Broad and Bill Gates compromised the integrity of the Phi Delta Kappan

Whatever Bill Gates wants,

Bill Gates gets.

And America,

Bill Gates wants your kid.

Recline yourself, resign yourself,

you're through.

He always gets what he pays for.

And kids' heart'n soul is what he's paid for.

Whatever Bill Gates wants.

Bill Gates gets,

Give him your kid.

Don't you know you can't win?

You're no exception to the rule.

His dough's irresistible, you fool.

Give in! Give in! Give in!

The cover of the September 2014 issue of the Phi Delta Kappan obscures the fact that the lead article, an apologetic for Common Core, was authored by employees of the foundations that are paid to tout Common Core. The decline of the PDK over the past eight years has been dramatic and saddening to many who once relied on it for serious discussion of public education, since it has now become an advertisement for the policies brought to the public behind the smokescreens of PDK and elsewhere based on money from billionaires like Eli Broad and Bill Gates.Phi Delta Kappan was once a highly regarded education journal. It offered research by Gerald Bracey every month and strong articles that didn't shrink from challenging federal and corporate overreach. I'm proud to say I wrote some of those articles.

I've already complained about PDK's Love Letter to the Broad Foundation. Actually, that's when I gave up my decades-long subscription to PDK and stopped following what they do. But I break my silence with the September 2014 issue, Support the Common Core with the Right Instructional Materials by Rachel Leifer and Dennis Udal.

What I object to is PDK offering ink to employees of foundations touting programs their foundations fund. They do mention this: Student Achievement Partners and many tools, organizations, and efforts mentioned in this article have received funding from the Hewlett Foundation and Helmsley Charitable Trust.

They leave the "many tools, organizations, and efforts" to the reader's imagination. Roughly, what this means is they pull up praise from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

The article starts off by praising the EngageNY curriculum materials. See for yourself what EngageNY promotes. In the lower grades they are scripts from E. D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge. I have described what it's like to slog through the K12 version of this material exposing the primary grade set to the history of Western Civilization � with Africa and Asia thrown in. Chris Cerrone At the Chalk Face puts the cost for New York to develop this offal in the millions, and that's just dollars. The psychic cost to kids is incalculable.

You think I overstate the issue? Take a look at 17 Days on One Short Story. The blogger at Perdido Street School concludes, "You can bet the children of the elites are not stuck reading 20% of Romeo and Juliet or spending a month on one short story."

According to the authors of Support the Common Core with the Right Instructional Materials: New York invested $28 million from its 2010 $700-million Race to the Top grant to develop new materials for English language arts (ELA) and math that districts -- which make curriculum decisions in New York -- which could adopt, adapt, or decline to use. Notice how they make the point that local districts are the decision makers. The authors quote a teacher who finds these materials "invaluable" and finds them "more transparent, logical, and consistent than previous materials, making it easier to help all students."

There's more: [T]est data show that nearly every student at Ripley is making substantial learning gains. The implication is clear: Finding strong instructional materials is crucial to realizing the promise of the Common Core.

Then the authors intone the corporate-political-US Department of Education mantra: the Common Core standards are not curricula. They do not prescribe textbooks or lessons. They simply set student learning goals.

The authors acknowledge that it's hard to find materials that actually measure up to the Common Core. But fear not! Help is available. Common Core supporters realized early that they would need to prod the marketplace to respond to the standards. Working with educators, the non-profit organization Student Achievement Partners developed the Publishers' Criteria to illustrate that "the standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business," said managing partner Amy Briggs.

Amy Briggs has an MBA, Operations and Information Management, from the Wharton School. Here's her employment before joining Student Achievement Partners.

*Vice President, Client Services Kaplan K-12 and College Prep Regional *Vice President The Grow Network/McGraw-Hill

*Management Consultant Bain & Company

*Educational Tour Consultant EF Education First

The authors say "supporters" of common core have "developed two tools to help educators choose materials." More accurately, Foundations pushing common core have paid outfits to develop these tools. I won't again go into the litany of how much the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, General Electric, and all the other foundations have paid Student Achievement Partners (now know as Achieve the Core), the outfit started by common core impresario David Coleman.

� Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool (IMET). Created by Student Achievement Partners, the IMET is a set of rubrics designed to support educators and administrators tasked with developing, evaluating, or buying full-year or multi-year curricula. The rubrics distill the standards into non-negotiable criteria for alignment with tangible metrics. For example, the first criterion in the grade 3-12 ELA rubric is text complexity. One metric: The curriculum must provide "a collection of texts that build knowledge systematically through reading, writing, listening, and speaking." Finally, the rubrics list "indicators of superior quality" to differentiate among materials meeting the non-negotiable criteria.

Educators Evaluating Quality Instructional Products (EQuIP) (This is from Achieve). This rubric evaluates a lesson or unit on four dimensions: alignment to the depth of the standards, key shifts required by the standards, instructional supports, and assessments. Scores for each dimension classify materials as exemplar, exemplar if improved, revision needed, or not ready. National education organization Achieve, which helped develop the rubric, has trained over 15,000 teachers to use this rubric and assembled a peer-review panel of over 50 educators to apply EQuIP to submitted materials. Achieve posts results on its web site,

There's an overweening faith in rubrics here, insisting that "practitioners using the rubrics deepen their understanding of the Common Core."


I'd like to meet the teacher who ever had her understanding deepened by rubrics. More than a decade ago, Thomas Newkirk lifted the curtain on this sham in Mania for Rubrics.

Praise for these tools comes from the usual culprits--all beneficiaries of grants related to the Common Core from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Starting off, there's the inevitable quote from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. You have to look at the references to see who said it--Kathleen Porter-Magee, former employee of Achievement First.

Then, we learn that Mike Cohen, Achieve's president, has dubbed EngageNY "Engage America." Cohen has a long career of disseminating the corporate agenda for education. Before going to Achieve, Cohen held several senior education positions in the Clinton Administration, including those related to Goals 2000 (The old-time Phi Delta Kappan invited me to write a cover story on this corporate-politico interference in the lives of teachers and the children in their care).

That was 14 years ago. The unions didn't fight the Business Roundtable agenda then, and they aren't fighting it now.

Achieve is the project manager for PARCC.

Whatever Bill Gates wants,

Bill Gates gets,

And America, Bill Gates wants your kid.

But corporate America has been in this game long before Bill Gates became a player. In One Size Fits Few: the Folly of Educational Standards, I documented Gov. Bill Gates holding hands with Lou Gerstner (founder of Achieve) to deliver the Business Roundtable education agenda for President George Bush the elder. Kathy Emery and I spelled it out in more detail in Why Is Corporate America Bashing our Public Schools? Having just received my royalty statement, I know I'm spitting in the wind. Two copies sold. Not quite enough readers for a revolution.

Bloggers blog. They don't seem to read. And so the wheel is rediscovered every few years.

Meanwhile, the reference list for the PDK article is telling. Not much reading there either, certainly nothing outside the party line.


Achieve. (2014). Integrating EQuIP into your state's Common Core State Standards implementation strategy (webinar).

Chingos, M. & Whitehurst, G. (2012)Choosing blindly: Instructional materials, teacher effectiveness, and the Common Core. Washington, DC:

Brookings Institution.

Herold, B. & Molna, M. (2014, March 3). Research questions Common Core claims by publishers.

Education Week.

Leachman, M. & Mai, C. (2014, May 20) Most states funding schools less than before the recession.

Porter-Magee, K. (2014, March 19). There's a new sheriff in town: Louisiana judges Common Core alignment. y-daily/common-core-watch/there%E2%80%99s-a-new-sheriff-in-town-louisiana-judges

Sawchuk, S. (2012, November 29). Citing lack of Common Core alignment, Louisiana poised to delay textbook adoption. Education Week. html?cmp=ENL-CM-NEWS2

Schmidt, W.S. & Cogan, L.S. (2009, November). The myth of equal content. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 44-47.

VanRoekel, D. (2013, May 7). Common Core State Standards: Get it right. Huffington Post.

And finally, know the authors:

Rachel Leifer is a Program Officer in the Helmsley Charitable Trust's Education Program. She began her career as a Teach For America corps member, teaching eighth-grade English Language Arts in Washington, D.C., where more than 80 percent of her students advanced at least 1.5 years in academic skills annually. Rachel holds master's degrees in journalism and education from Columbia University and American University, respectively, and a bachelor's degree from Smith College.

Denis Udall is a program officer in the Hewlett Foundation's Education Program. . . . Before joining the Foundation, Udall served for nine years as a program officer at the Walter S. Johnson Foundation in California. . . . Prior to his work at Johnson, Udall worked for fifteen years in urban schools and youth-serving programs including ten years for Outward Bound USA.

Note: In the past, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Hewlett Foundation $53,000,000 "to support the Quality Education in Developing Countries." No details available. Here is the most recent grant:

Date: February 2014 Purpose: to support commitments from the California State Legislature and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to create the California Open Education Resource Council and the first version of the California Open Source Digital Library to increase adoption of open textbooks Amount: $500,000

� Susan Ohanian. blog. August 30, 2014


September 2, 2014 at 6:07 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Whatever Gates Wants

I remember using Bill Gates as an example to my students of a lowly worker who started a business in his garage and turned it into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. I, also, used to be able to say that he didn't forget where he came from and gave back to the children of Chicago. I can't say either of those things any longer.

September 3, 2014 at 4:32 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Gates began wealthy, and became wealthiest

Bill Gates was the son of one of the wealthiest bankers in Seattle, attended the area's most expensive private school, and went to Harvard partly because his parents could afford to send him there. He never -- never once -- began a business "in a garage." His fortune was created by lawyers who bought up the "intellectual property rights" to the inventions of others and then added it to Gates's Microsoft Corporation. Bill Gates began among the wealthy -- NOT in a garage but in one of the most affluent homes in the Pacific Northwest. Microsoft's monopolies built Bill Gates's billions, just as the Standard Oil monopolies of 100 years ago built the Rockefeller fortunes that murdered workers and strangled democracy across those decades. Like many wealthy children of great wealth, he could afford to drop out of Harvard because unlike those who did climb from the working class, his privileges were secured from the date and place of his birth.

September 4, 2014 at 6:07 PM

By: Margaret Wilson


I guess I still buy into some of the myths I was told when I was younger. Thanks for the correction.

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