Jim Stergios Hits Common Core on Conflicts of Interest

Common Core Conflicts of Interest

The erudite Jim Stergios has just released the second in a series of articles highlighting the numerous conflicts of interest that have riddled advocates of the Common Core.  The first article he defines the issue of the Common Core conflicts of interest:

“No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.”

– James MadisonFederalist #10

In this season of US Supreme Court decisions we’re reminded that independent and objective judgment on key legal and public policy matters has been an aspiration in Anglo-America law and justice (not to mention scientific inquiry) for centuries. In America, it was John Adams in Massachusetts and James Madison of Virginia who were best at articulating the importance of independent judgment.

The push for national education standards has brought to light a variety of troubling questions about the legality, cost, and academic quality that has been discussed here and here.

Perhaps none are more disturbing than the (see below) conflict-ridden and ethically challenged circumstances by which the Patrick administration, its handpicked board of education, and national standards proponents and lobbyists in DC and MA encouraged the BOE to dump Massachusetts’ nation-leading and proven academic standards and MCAS.

He goes on to expose a web of insider baseball to make any believer in reducing corruption in government — from conservatives and liberals alike — pause.

Fordham is a research and advocacy outfit in Washington that has backed the idea of national standards for some time and received significant funding from the Gates Foundation, which has largely bankrolled the entire national standards effort (Fordham took $1 million from Gates to study and evaluate national standards). Hardly what one might call an “independent” evaluator.” Yet, that is who Commissioner Chester relied upon for part of his decision to have Massachusetts adopt national standards.

Then there is the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, a Massachusetts backer of national standards, touted their “independent” comparison of Massachusetts standards and the Gates Foundation backed national ones:

A key factor in gaining business support was the independent comparison of Massachusetts’ standards to the Common Core commissioned by MBAE and conducted by WestEd.

In fact, MBAE, via the North Carolina-based Hunt Institute and Gates Foundation, received a $151,431 grant to “evaluate” national standards that themselves were paid for by the Gates Foundation.

The evaluation company MBAE relied on – WestEd – is a client of both the Gates Foundation and the Massachusetts ed department. In fact, WestEd’s research director’s bio has now this to say about their linkages to national standards and the one of the national testing consortia.

His first op-ed is a must read.

His second op-ed gets even further into the weeds:

Second, let’s define the “vetting process” employed by the Massachusetts Department of Education to make a decision on whether to adopt national standards. It’s laid out in a 2010 departmental press release:

“The standards were also fully vetted, reviewed and approved by national organizations including Achieve, Inc., which called them “a significant advance over current state standards,” and the Fordham Foundation. The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), in a side-by-side analysis comparing the state’s current standards to the Common Core, deemed that Common Core “meets the business community’s objective of enhancing the college and career readiness of our students.”Fordham is a research and advocacy outfit in Washington that has backed the idea of national standards for some time and received significant funding from the Gates Foundation, which has largely bankrolled the entire national standards effort (Fordham took $1 million from Gates to study and evaluate national standards). Hardly what one might call an “independent” evaluator.” Yet, that is who Commissioner Chester relied upon for part of his decision to have Massachusetts adopt national standards.

Then there is the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, a Massachusetts backer of national standards, touted their “independent” comparison of Massachusetts standards and the Gates Foundation backed national ones:

“A key factor in gaining business support was the independent comparison of Massachusetts’ standards to the Common Core commissioned by MBAE and conducted by WestEd.”In fact, MBAE, via the North Carolina-based Hunt Institute and Gates Foundation, received a $151,431 grant to “evaluate” national standards that themselves were paid for by the Gates Foundation.

The evaluation company MBAE relied on – WestEd – is a client of both the Gates Foundation and the Massachusetts ed department. In fact, WestEd’s research director’s bio has now this to say about their linkages to national standards and the one of the national testing consortia.

Read the entire second op-ed here.

This issue may seem confusing.  That’s because it is.

The long and the short of it is that the Gates Foundation and the federal government payed a whole lot of nonprofit organizations to review, advocate for, manage, design and enforce the standards and assessments.  These organizations all ran around pretending that they were acting in a disinterested manner in support of improving education.  They even cite each other as disinterested scholars and experts who are all collaborating for the good of children.  But in fact they are all either on the payroll of the Gates Foundation or the Obama Administration.  The American education system has become non-democratic and Bill Gates and Barack Obama have become Judge, Jury, and Executioner on what American schoolchildren learn.  And all of the nonsense about standards being validated, benchmarked, and based on objective research is a lot of hogwash.  It turned out that almost the entire nonprofit education advocacy world was for sale to special interests (the Gates Foundation and the Obama Administration).  And a whole lot of people are becoming very rich cooperating with them, cashing large checks, and pretending to be objective and disinterested.  Stergios wonders aloud how these people feel about their integrity:

After receiving the tip from a reader who looked at Fordham’s federal tax status filings, I have to admit that I realized that I find it hard to believe that these people wake up everyday and pretend to take themselves seriously.

The famous line in A Man for All Seasons springs to mind where Sir Thomas More says to Richard after Richard has sacrificed his integrity and deceived the jury about Thomas:

Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales?

Well, at least Wales is a land.  A large check from the Gates Foundation and an invitation to the National Governors Association annual meeting doesn’t quite measure up.