A Brief History of Common Core
● Two Washington, D.C. (not state) based organizations- the NGA (National Governor’s
Association) and CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) were paid by special
interest groups to develop and implement a political strategy to create national curriculum
○ Neither organization has been granted any authority from states.
○ In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation
pledged $60 million to create uniform American standards.
○ In 2008, the Gates Foundation awarded a $2.2 million grant to “governors and
stakeholders” to promote the adoption of national standards.
● In 2008, the NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve, Inc. (DC based firm) wrote Benchmarking for
Success, the vision for common core, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
● This plan outlined five steps, none of which allows for local or even state control of the
○ “Upgrade” state standards by adopting a common core of internationally
benchmarked standards in math and language arts.
○ Leverage states’ collective influence to ensure that textbooks, digital media,
curricula, and assessments are aligned.
○ Revised state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing, and supporting
teachers and school leaders.
○ Hold schools and systems accountable through monitoring, interventions, and
○ Measure state level
education performance globally.
● States accepted the standards in 2009 through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in which Congress stated that $4.35 billion was earmarked to
states that improve state standards and enhance academic success.
○ The week after ARRA was announced, the Race to the Top process was
unveiled, earmarking the funds directly to states who agree to specific uniform
○ Gates Foundation executives were hired to serve as Secretary of Education Arne
Duncan’s chief of staff and as head of the Office of Innovation and Improvement.
● It is currently estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent more than $163 million to
develop and advance Common Core standards.
● On June 1, 2009 Common Core is officially announced with revised objectives mimicking
those in the original Benchmarking for Success document, to include:
○ adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments
○ building data systems that measure student success
○ increasing teacher and principal effectiveness and achieve equity in their
○ turning around lowest achieving schools.
● According to the Federal Government, Common Core OFFICIALLY began in 2009 with
Race to the Top grants. As you can see, however, it was a long term plan concocted by
special interest groups withOUT buy in from individual states. They were NOT even
drafted yet. States accepted standards they had not reviewed, that had not been
internationally benchmarked, and had not been field tested.
● The Federal Government knew states were in economic disarray and would fall to
pressures in order to receive the funding associated with Race to the Top. To increase
the pressure, in March 2010, the Department of Educations Blueprint for Reform stated
that in 2015, states will not receive formula funds (for other programs funded by the
federal government like Title I funding) if they had not fully adopted and implemented
● As standards were drafted, curriculum experts like Dr. Sandra Strotsky and Dr. Mark
Bauerlein, refused to sign off on them, for a number of reasons.
○ English Language Arts
■ Required and suggested texts emphasize technical and informational
texts and literary nonfiction
rather than traditional fictional literature.
■ Foundational American documents are only suggested, not required.
■ Suggested texts include government manuals (i.e. EPA documents)
● States must implement the standards word for word; they cannot alter or deviate from
the curriculum, thus eliminating the ability of a teacher to be creative and innovative for
his or her particular students.
● Standards are actually owned and managed by the NGA and CCSSO, leaving absolutely
no state control over what is mandated.
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