Wednesday, November 19, 2014


By Nancy Thorner – 

Follow the money. It all ends up in the hands of a very few. Pearson Foundation is getting the contracts because of its partnership with the Bill Gates Foundation. Greed, secrecy, deceptions, and lies …. and to think Democrats accuse Republicans of the very things, while Democrats are the ones using government to get richer. The deceptions run very deep. It’s time for exposure.

The saga begins on one summer day in 2008, when Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman (known as the architect of Common Core), knowing they needed tens of millions of dollars and a champion to overcome the politics that had thwarted previous attempts to institute national standards, approached Bill Gates at his headquarters near Seattle, to convince Gates and his wife to sign on to their idea.  Gates, upon asking if states were serious about common educational standards, was assured that they were. Gates signed on and the remarkable shift in education policy know as Common Core was born.

The Gates Foundation has spent over $170 million to manipulate the U.S. Department of Education to impose the CSSS, knowing it would realize a return on this investment as school districts and parents rush to buy the technology products they’ve been convinced are vital to improving education.  Bill Gates’ Microsoft will make a fortune form the sale of new technology products.  According to the Gates Foundation, CCSS is seen as a “step to greater excellence in education.”

On April 27, 2011 the Gates Foundation joined forces with the Pearson Foundation, a British multi-national conglomerate, representingthe largest private business maneuvering for U.S. education dollars. Pearson executives saw the potential to secure lucrative contracts in testing, textbooks and software worth tens of millions of dollars.  Its partnership with the Gates Foundation was to support America’s teachers by creating a full series of digital instructional resources. Online courses in Math and Reading/English Language Arts would offer a coherent and systemic approach to teaching the new Common Core State Standard. The aim: To create an online curriculum for those standards in mathematics and English language arts that span nearly every year of a child’s pre-collegiate education. This aim has already been realized and is in practice in Common Core states.

The Pearson and Gates foundations also fund the Education Development Center (EDC) based in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is a global nonprofit organization that designs teacher evaluation policy.  Both stand to benefit from EDC recommendations. The center is involved in curriculum and materials development, research and evaluation, publication and distribution, online learning, professional development, and public policy development.

In its alignment with the Gates Foundation and Common Core, Pearson dominates the education testing and is raking in profits as school districts are pushed to replace paper textbooks with digital technology.  For example, the Los Angeles school system with 651 students, spent over $1 billion in 2013 to purchase iPads from Pearson.  Additionally, The Los Angeles school purchased Pearson’s Common Core Systems of Courses to provide all the primary instructional material for math and English/language arts for K-12, even though the material were incomplete in 2013.

Pearson’s profits will continue to increase as it has billions of dollars in long-term contracts with education department in a number of states and municipalities to introduce both testing software and the teacher training software and textbooks it claims are necessary to prepare for the tests. For example, Illinois has paid Pearson $138 million to produce standardized tests; Texas, $50 million; and New York, $32 million.

Pearson is really raking in the dough now that Pearson VUE, the assessment services wing of Pearson, has acquired examination software development company Exam Design.  CTS/McGraw-Hill is Pearson’s main competitor in the rise of standardized testing.

Corporations finding they can profit from turning students into unimaginative machines, are newly discovering they can likewise profit from standardizing teachers as well. Starting in May 2014, Pearson Education will take over teacher certification in New York State as a way of fulfilling the state’s promised “reforms” in its application for federal Race to the Top money. The evaluation system known as the Teacher Performance assessment or TPA was developed at Stanford University with support from Pearson, but it will be solely administered and prospective teachers will be entirely evaluated by Pearson and its agents.

A small cloud did fall over the Pearson Foundation (the nonprofit arm of educational publishing giant Pearson Inc) in December of 2013, when a $7.7 million fine was levied for using its charitable work to promote and develop course materials and software to benefit its corporate profit making.  After the investigation begun, Pearson Foundation sold the courses to Pearson for $15.1 million.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman determined that the foundation had created Common Core products to generate “tens of millions of dollars” for its corporate sister. According to the settlement: “Pearson used its nonprofit foundation to develop Common Core product in order to win an endorsement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped fund the creation of the Common Core standards, having announced in 2011 that it would work with the Pearson foundation to write reading and math courses aligned with the new standard.”

Since Pearson is the world largest education company and book publisher, with profits of more than $9 billion annually, the $7.7 million fine was not a hardship. Pearson, wasn’t always so big.  As a British multinational corporation Pearson was just starting out in the early 2000’s. Pearson started to grow when it embraced No Child Left Behind as its business plan and began rapidly buying up U.S. companies.

On June 10 of this year, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced its support for a two-year moratorium on tying results from assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards to teacher evaluations or student promotions to the next grade level.

Although the Gates Foundation’s director of college-ready programs stated how Common Core was having a very positive impact on education, teachers do need more time to adjust.

The moratorium was enacted when on June 9, Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and author of “Reign of Error,” sounded the alarm over the implementation of Common Core and called for a congressional investigation, noting, “The idea that the richest man in [the U.S.] can purchase and — working closely with the U.S. Department of Education — impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal.”

It would be folly to suggest that either Bill Gates or Pearson, despite the temporary tactical retreat by Gates will not keep pushing for Common Core with its required educational technology. This nation spends over $500 billion annually on K-12 education.  When colleges and career-training programs are included, the education sector represents almost 9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic production.  Companies like Pearson and Microsoft stand to greatly profit as they develop and administer the tests and sell the teacher-training material.

It is not unreasonable to suspect that companies like Pearson stand to gain when tests designed to measure Common Core State Standards make most public schools look bad.  Counting on widespread failure of the Common Core State Standards, school districts and parents will be pushed to purchase even more training technology, teachers in low-ranked schools will be fired, and school will be turned over to private management.

As a text book manufacturer, Pearson Education buckled to the activists demands in Texas and replaced the scientific understanding of climate change with the politically driven claim that humans are causing climate change.  Because of the size the Texas it does have influence on the national textbook market.

Might Common Core State Standards be the latest in the grand corporate scheme to profit from privatized public education?  In the interim, Bill Gates’ Microsoft and Pearson get big CCSS profits.  Certainly neither teachers nor students are benefiting.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

By Nancy Thorner – 

On Tuesday, May 13, the Northern Illinois Patriots , President Greg Clements, sponsored Dr.  Duke PestaFreedom Project Education Academy Director — an online school offering a complete classical education for students from Kindergarten through High School, free from public school spin and Common Core indoctrination — as its featured speaker at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery, 481 Peterson Road in Libertyville. Dr. Pesta’s topic:  “Common Core:  Dangers and Threats.”

As a teacher himself, Dr. Pesta is not anti-teacher despite his negative opinion of Common Core.  If truth be told, many teachers oppose Common Core but are told to keep quiet or lose their jobs.  Pesta received his MA in Renaissance literature from John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature from Purdue University.

He has taught at major research institutions and small liberal arts colleges, and has been active in education reform, developing and implementing an elective Bible course that is currently available for public high school students in Texas. Currently he is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh in addition to his role as Academic Director of Freedom Project Education.

The chilling truth behind the new national standards are sure to terrify you, as they did to those who attended the Northern Illinois Patriots event.  A question Dr Pesta asks at the beginning of each of his events is how many are familiar with Common Core?  As is the case most often, 90 to 95% are still foggy about the nature of Common Core.

Dr. Duke Pesta, using research done by others, presented Common Core as the drive it is toward complete government control of our children’s education through a series a slides and commentary titled,  “Common Core:  Dangers and Threats.”   Dr. Pesta considers Common Core a hugely bi-partisan problem. In Wisconsin Republicans refused to allow a vote to be held on Common Core legislation.  Nationally, Jeb Bush and Chris Christy are in total support of Common Core, as is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Duke Pesta divided his presentation into three parts

Part 1:  How did Common Core come about?   a Research Fellow in Education at the Heartland Institute

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) implies that that all states were consulted before they signed on to Common Core, as though it were a democratic thing instead of Banana Republic tactics. Not so!  Joy Pullman, a Research Fellow in Education at the Heartland Institute, traces the writing of Common Core back to five individuals.  One of its writers, David Coleman is considered the chief architect of Common Core. According to Dr. Pesta, Coleman is not qualified to write on any subject. Worrisome is that Coleman has since moved on to become president of the College Board where he will integrate the AP assessments with Common Core standards.

Hence, the curriculum was written by a small group of individuals and then copyrighted by two Washington lobbyists group, making it devoid of any government ownership. This is important because the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Acts was the first federal attempt to regulate and finance schools. In 1979 the law that created the Department of Education forbids it to exercise “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school system.  The mechanism of control were the tests all students had to take to be written by the people who created Common Core. To pass the tests, the Common Core curriculum had to be taught. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $170 million to support the creation and implementation of Common Core State Standards. To date they have contributed $2.5 billion.

But there is no way Common Core could have been brought into the nation’s schools given that it was the product of a small group of activists supported by billionaire Bill Gates.  As background, in 2001, President G.W. Bush came up with “No Child Left Behind” which he gave over to Senator Ted Kennedy to write.  “No Child Left Behind” was a disaster from the beginning as it was based on “outcome” education, which is akin to socialism.  Every single child was expected to meet the same arbitrary standard through high stakes testing.

Fast forward to 2009. President Obama is now in office. It was in 2009 that President Obama took $5.1 billion of taxpayer money and offered it to states to sign on to his “Race to the Top” program.  The catch:  If states accepted “Race to the Top” money they had to accept Common Core State Standards (CSSS) sight unseen.   Additionally, a waiver was granted to states so they could opt out of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program if they signed on to Obama’s” Race to the Top” program.

Forty-four states agreed to trade their K-12 math and English targets and tests for those of the Common Core’s State Standards yet to be written. Now that CC is in place, in some states longer than others, Dr. Pesta looks upon Common Core as “No Child Left Behind of steroids.” He also refers to Common Core as a social justice curriculum that comes before the ABC’s.  Remaining at its core is a one-size fits all definition of education.  But what if the high standards can’t be met?  It becomes obvious that the only way to get more children to the same place is in time to lower standards.

Part 2:  Nature of Common Core Curriculum

Although it is often said that Common Core is not a curriculum but a set of standards, Common Core standards are being put into textbooks which then become curriculum.  Pierson, as the largest education product sales company on earth, has a monopoly on education products, including textbooks.  This month Bill Gates — the second richest man on earth who almost single-handedly funded and marketed the entire Common Core movement going back to UNESCO and its goal to bring a master curriculum worldwide — has joined forces with Piersen to create a one size fits all curriculum.  Although it is claimed that states can deviate 15% from what is being taught in other states, if this were true there would have to be a different test for each state.

Dr. James Milgram, professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, as members of the Common Core Validation Review Panel were the only experts on the panel in their subject area.  Both Milgram a math expert and Stotsky an English expert refused to give Common Core Math and English standards, respectively, a good recommendation as did the rest of the panel.  Both have gone on to testify with a warning voice to state legislatures and school boards about the inadequacy of the standards.

Hear Dr. Milgram talk about “What happened to Math education and why Common Core won’t help.”

James Mlgram points out these flaws of the new Core Curriculum math standards:

  • By the end of fifth grade the material being covered in arithmetic and algebra in Core Standards is more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high achieving countries.  By the end of seventh grade Core Standards are roughly two years behind.
  • Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations and do not reflect the mathematics education that underlie the results in the high achieving countries.  The explicitly stated objective is to prepare students not to have to take remedial mathematics courses at a typical community college.

Common Core applies a never before seen methodology in the way common math problems are solved.  Parents can no longer help their children with simple addition and subtraction not understanding the system. Staking of numbers is no longer permitted, instead children must draw dots, circles, squares, etc., to come up with the answer.

Dr. Pesta used as a demonstration a Champion News video of a Grayslake D46 Curriculum Coordinator relating how under the new Common Core math system if a child determines that 3 + 4 is 11, that’s perfectly fine if the child is able to explain how he arrived at the answer. Even if a child can do math beyond his grade level, he must stay put and not try to move to a higher level.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky has come to refer to Common Core standards as propaganda.  Hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky describe “What are the major problems with Common Core English Standards?”

Dr. Stotsky’s concerns about Common Core can be read here.

  • Common Core is a step backwards for English Standards.  The architects of Common Core’s English Language Arts standards never claimed that their standards would do so; rather, they claimed the standards would make all students “college-ready,”
  • Common Core English standards require English teachers to emphasize skills, not literary or cultural knowledge, such as how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text at all grade levels, which may lead to a decreased capacity for analytical thinking.
  • Common Core standards require English teachers to teach “informational” texts over 50% of their reading instructional time rather than literary texts.  There are, however, 30 book sexually unfit for high school kids to read on the Common Core approved reading list, one such book for the 11th grade: The Bluest Eye.
  • Writing is emphasized more than reading, but kids only learn to write well after they can read well.  When writing they will most likely write what they read in their textbooks such as the global warming threat, ways to save the planet, or a denial of American exceptionalism.

Here is Dr. Pesta’s anti-Common Core Speech similar to the one he presented at Austin’s on Tuesday, May 13.

Article 2:  “Shocking Far Reaching Tentacles of Common Core” as referenced in 3rd part of Dr. Peta’s presentation on Common Core sponsored by Northern Illinois Patriots Tuesday, May 13.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Permalink