Gates Foundation CEO: We Underestimated Resources Needed for Common Core

Sue Desmond-Hellmann speaks with young students at White Center Heights Elementary School in Seattle, WA on January 5, 2015.
Sue Desmond-Hellmann speaks with young students at White Center Heights Elementary School in Seattle, WA.
Photo source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, in letter published on the Foundation’s website noted that the Foundation underestimated the amount of resources that would be needed to implement Common Core.

Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards. We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators – particularly teachers – but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.

This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.

But every tough lesson only reinforces our commitment to teachers and student success.

All teachers and students should have access to learning materials of the highest quality. But far too many districts report that identifying or developing Common Core-aligned materials is a challenge, meaning that teachers spend their time adapting or creating curriculum, developing lessons, and searching for supplemental materials.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to hear from educators. And no one knows teaching like teachers. So, we’re doubling down on our efforts to make sure teachers have what they need to make the most of their unique capabilities.

Digital content and tools that provide support for lesson planning – including LearnZillion, Better Lesson, and EngageNY – are providing millions of teachers with an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional textbooks.

We’re supporting a partnership with EdReports.org, the Consumer Reports of K-12 curriculum, to provide free and open-access teacher-led reviews and evidence on instructional materials. This will increase the capacity of educators across the country to seek, develop, and demand high-quality, aligned instructional materials.

I agree that they missed an early opportunity with teachers and parents. That opportunity existed BEFORE the standards were rammed down our throats. They still are not admitting failure with the Common Core rollout and point to Kentucky as an indicator of success.

Yes, Kentucky with it’s widening achievement gap between black and white students. What this letter shows me is the continued tone deafness of a foundation started by a man who thinks he can, with his vast resources, shape American education into his image. Complicit governors and the Obama administration proved that he could. One thing I can agree with Desmond-Hellmann on – the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers not even close.

3 thoughts on “Gates Foundation CEO: We Underestimated Resources Needed for Common Core

  1. Really? She is sorry that the “foundation” underestimated this? There are THOUSANDS of teachers across the United States whose lives have been ruined by this mess. Sickening.

  2. Are they sorry for causing our children to have anxiety, depression and mental breakdowns due to that common garbage!!!

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