Talking back to Bill Gates

In The Education of Mr. Gates, Ze’ev Wurman, a former Education Department official, responds to Bill Gates’ defense of Common Core standards at the American Enterprise Institute.| 

Gates: So a bunch of governors said, hey, you know, why are we buying these expensive textbooks? Why are they getting so thick? You know, are standards high enough or quality enough? And I think it was the National Governors Association that said we ought to get together on this. A bunch of teachers met with a bunch of experts, and so in reading and writing and math, these knowledge levels were written down.

Wurman: Well, not exactly. Not “teachers met experts.” Rather, a bunch of poorly qualified ed policy “experts” (chosen by Mr. Gates and Marc Tucker) met with testing experts from College Board and ACT and made the decisions. Then they brought in teachers as window dressing to create the image of broad support.

Wurman helped develop California’s standards, which were abandoned in favor of the Common Core. A Silicon Valley engineer, he believes the new math standards will make it difficult for high school students to prepare for STEM majors.

States with math standards least like the Common Core have higher achievement scores, concludes a new Brookings’ report. “Supporters of Common Core argue that strong, effective standards will sweep away such skepticism by producing lasting, significant gains in student learning,” wrote the study’s authors. “So far at least–and it is admittedly the early innings of a long ball game–there are no signs of such an impressive accomplishment.”

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  1. Interesting simile there. Yes, it is early in the ball game. But it is unlike a ball game as most ball games don’t matter to the future lives of the children being batted about.

    I like the hidden message in there, we just won’t know until we see whether the lives of children are drastically altered for better or worse.