Melinda Gates Says Common Core Has Become Too Political

Melinda Gates spoke in Nashville on Monday to a group of Southern teachers. (Photo credit: DFID)

Melinda Gates spoke in Nashville on Monday to a group of Southern teachers. Credit: DFID

Melinda Gates says the Common Core education standards have become too politicized. Gates was in Nashville on Monday for the annual meeting of the Southern Regional Education Board.

Gates said the fact that not all students are college-ready by graduation is the country’s “great injustice.” Nearly every state originally adopted the standards after they were introduced four years ago. Yet now, some states view them as political poison.

The standards basically lay out what what students should know at the end of each grade in English and math.

“I think we let it become a political hot-button in a way that it shouldn’t be. We lost sight as a nation about what this is about. We lost sight of the fact that teachers believe in it,” Gates said.

Gates responded to the states that are pulling away from Common Core, including South Carolina, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Texas — mostly Republican-run states that view the standards as a federal crusade, although it was a group of states that actually helped devise the standards. Accepting them could be seen as a political liability with elections looming.

“Implementation of this is going to take some time,” she said. “It has to be done carefully. It has to be done with teachers on board.”

Skeptics say that the Gates Foundation’s support of Common Core is driven by business interests, since Microsoft is expected to make money from how Common Core is being implemented in classrooms. Bill Gates denies this, telling the Washington Post “there’s no connection to Common Core and any Microsoft thing.”

When asked by Here and Now’s Jeremy Dobson whether the Gates Foundation is essentially buying education through its advocacy of the Core, she said they’re not that powerful.

“If we spent the entire corpus of the foundation today in U.S. education, we could only fund the state of California for two years. That’s how tiny our money is.”

Still, the Gates Foundation is by far the largest private foundation in the country, worth an estimated $40 billion.

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