By Danette Clark
In the trailer for the upcoming Common Core documentary, Building the Machine, Political Scientist Dr. Andrew Hacker refers to the little man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz when suggesting that, with regard to Common Core, we don’t know who’s pulling all the strings.
Well, we know there are lots of little men (of little character) with big corporate interests behind Common Core. We also know Bill Gates and the Obama administration have thrown their full weight into the initiative.
Of course, Common Core is the concerted effort of many — after all, 45 states signed on before the standards were even written — but it does appear that Carnegie is the one great and powerful force working all the controls from behind the curtain.
From the creation of high school academic credits and the College-Level Entrance Examination Program, to federal Pell grants and the establishment of the largest testing organization in the world (ETS), Carnegie Corporation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (hereafter “Carnegie” or “the foundations”) have made important and historic contributions to America’s education system.
With each contribution, however, has come increasing influence and power. Likewise, with each passing decade and sitting Carnegie president, the foundations’ objectives for use of that power have changed dramatically.
For example, according to Carnegie.org, former Carnegie Corporation president, John W. Gardner, led the foundation into an “era of strategic philanthropy — the planned, organized, deliberately constructed means to attain stated ends.” From Gardner, “…the Foundation inherited a commitment to… moral leadership as a key feature of a democratic society, and thus of its educational systems”.
As a psychologist, Gardner believed in the merging of education and behavioral science to address world problems and create social change.
Gardner also opened the door to federal intrusion and control by inviting the federal government in to collaborate with Carnegie on the implementation of new education initiatives.
David Hamburg, Carnegie president from 1982 to 1997, further expounded on the foundations’ work of diffusing social science and education research “to improve social policy and practice”. To that end, Hamburg forged partnerships with leading institutions that, according to Carnegie.org, “had the capability to influence public thought and action”.
During this time, other partnerships were formed as well, with anti-capitalists and communists, also bent on using education to engineer a new social order.
Although Carnegie now claims to support and promote best practices in education, it has long supported one reform over all others –the Annenberg Institute’s Coalition of Essential Schools — the same progressive, indoctrinating, whole-child reform supported by President Obama for more than twenty years.
In fact, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) movement has become such an integral part of the work of Carnegie Corporation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, that it could easily be argued that the three are now synonymous.
This is important for those opposed to Common Core to realize and learn from, because while we were sleeping, the most influential ‘philanthropic’ organization in the country gave birth to an exceedingly politically radical education initiative, drove its expansion for three decades, and now carries it forward into the creation of Common Core.
Carnegie Brings Anti-Capitalists and Would-Be Common Core Creators Together
In 1981, Carnegie donated seed money to CES founder, Ted Sizer, for the research project that led him to start the Coalition of Essential Schools.
As explained here, the late Ted Sizer was a humanist who preached that schools must shape children morally and politically in order to create a more just world.
Co-founder of CES schools, Deborah Meier, is a Marxist-socialist and a long time friend and associate of Bill Ayers, Mike Klonsky, and other anti-American educators.
Just a year after CES was officially established at Brown University, Carnegie created the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy (now known as the National Center on Education and the Economy).
The Forum, led by Marc Tucker, commissioned a Task Force on Teaching as a Profession to address the need to “fundamentally change the nature of the education system to take advantage of a professionalized teaching force and to base that new system on higher standards for both students and teachers”.
The Task Force was led by James B. Hunt and its members included former Carnegie President John W. Gardner, American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker, Vice-President of IBM Lewis Branscomb, and Coalition of Essential Schools Co-Founder Deborah Meier.
Remember, James Hunt and IBM President, Louis Gerstner would later come together to form Achieve, Inc., the organization charged with writing the Common Core State Standards. Hunt’s organization, the Hunt Institute, is part of the joint effort of NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve in creating Common Core.
Under Tucker’s direction, the Carnegie Task Force wrote and published a report titled, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, which called for and led to the creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, of which Tucker, Meier, and Hunt served as founding board members.
In 1987, with the help of Carnegie Corporation, Marc Tucker went on to establish the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) as an independent institution that would continue the work of the Carnegie Forum.
Damning enough on its own (but we’ll explore further nonetheless) is the fact that NCEE’s Vice President Judy Codding was one of four charter principals who participated in the creation of Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools. According to CES, Codding led two early Essential School efforts in New York and later greatly contributed to the expansion of “Coalition ideas” in California.
According to NCEE’s website, …”in 1991, NCEE invited the University of Pittsburgh, 23 states, 6 cities and three national foundations to join with it in creating New Standards, a collaborative committed to… student performance standards and matching assessments to launch the standards movement in the United States”.
This initiative, which later came to be known as the New Standards Project, was cited at the 1996 National Education Summit (that gave birth to Achieve) to outline the “qualities of a world-class education standards system”.
From its start, the NCEE New Standards Project has been led by CES reformers, including Annenberg’s current and long-time Executive Director, Warren Simmons.
As admitted by NCEE, “many of the leaders in the New Standards work went on to play leading roles in the development of the Common Core State Standards, which built in part on the foundation laid by (The) New Standards (Project)”.
In other words, Common Core was, in fact, built on the foundation laid by Carnegie and the Coalition of Essential Schools.
ANNENBERG AND GATES FOUNDATION MONEY SPENT THE WAY CARNEGIE SEES FIT
With the Carnegie-created NCEE working in nearly two dozen states to lay the foundation for a new national standard, Carnegie began focusing its efforts on infiltrating additional districts and states.
Just before becoming president of Carnegie Corporation in 1997, Vartan Gregorian served as director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform where he led in the selection and distribution of Annenberg Challenge grants used to implement CES reform in various school districts across the country, including Chicago where an Annenberg Challenge site was led by communist Bill Ayers and Barack Obama.
While the Annenberg Institute admits that each group chosen to receive grants had to meet “unique conditions” and that “independent, non-profit entities” were “specially created” to run each Annenberg Challenge site, it was not made known that several of those ‘independent entities’ were specially created by Carnegie. Yet another blow to the “Common Core is state-led” claim; even the early roots of Common Core weren’t state-led.
In Chicago, for example, it was reported that three of the largest independent education foundations came together in support of and lobbied for the approval of the Annenberg grant proposal submitted by the Bill Ayers consortium. However, it was not reported that the presidents of two of those so-called ‘independent education foundations’, namely Adele Simmons of the Mac Arthur Foundation, and Patricia Graham of the Spencer Foundation, were from Carnegie.
Patricia Graham, whom Obama himself (in an attempt to diminish the influence of Bill Ayers) later credited with choosing him to chair the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, was an advisor to Carnegie Corporation and had recently served as chair of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
In Pennsylvania, it was the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF) that was ‘chosen’ to receive an Annenberg grant. PEF’s executive director was Warren Simmons, now director of the Annenberg Institute. Just prior to that, Simmons co-directed the Carnegie/NCEE New Standards Project.
Carnegie’s control also appears to extend to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has reportedly invested more than $2 billion in Common Core.
The same year Gregorian become president of Carnegie Corporation, he met with and convinced Bill Gates to form the Gates Learning Foundation (now the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), to which Gregorian was appointed as one of only six directors.
With the title of advisor to the Annenberg Foundation under his belt, and now, holding great power over both the Gates and Carnegie foundations, Gregorian began meeting with leaders of other top organizations across the country to discuss ways to combine their grant making efforts.
From inception through today, the education arm of the Gates Foundation has been led by Annenberg/CES reformers, likely all placed there under the direction of Gregorian.
Current director of the Gates Foundation’s College Ready in the United States Program, Vicki Phillips, was Executive Director of the Annenberg Challenge at Greater Philadelphia First.
Up Next – Biased Science Standards and Mandated Curriculum
Achieve, Inc. and Carnegie led in the creation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that were released last year.
These standards came to be in the same way as Common Core’s English and Math standards — the almighty Carnegie said it shall be done, gathered its favorite progressives together to complete the task, provided the funding, and had its partner, the US Department of Education, throw its weight behind it.
Not surprising, NGSS teaches the Big Bang Theory and evolution as fact, with no reference to creationism. Man-made global warming is also a fact in these standards and students are required to explore solutions to the warming crisis.
While this document doesn’t specifically state whether Carnegie “launched” or simply “advanced” CCSSO and NGA, both organizations, by way of Carnegie funding alone, are certainly subject to Carnegie control.
CCSSO, which also receives federal funding, has been in Carnegie’s pocket for decades. In 1987, while Carnegie’s Task Force on Teaching (CES co-founder Deborah Meier, James Hunt, etc.) were busy establishing the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, another leader in CES reform, Common Core’s Linda Darling-Hammond, was gearing up to lead the drafting committee of CCSSO’s newly formed Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).
INTASC, founded with Carnegie dollars, of course, was created to develop standards “compatible with the advanced certification standards of the new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards”.
The most recent version of INTASC’s Model Core Teaching Standards were specifically revised to align with the Common Core State Standards.
With student and teacher standards complete, Carnegie’s focus as of late has been on professional development and the creation of Common Core lessons, texts, and assessments.
So what’s next? Will Carnegie and its bestie, the US Department of Education, secure their hard work and vested billions by mandating specific Common Core content?
Even before Common Core was implemented in most states, there was a Call for Common Content issued by the Albert Shanker Institute, proclaiming that “core curriculum must build a bridge from standards to achievement”.
The Albert Shanker Institute is led, in part, by Linda Darling Hammond and Anthony Bryk, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Signatories include several CES educators and power players in the creation of Common Core, such as Achieve, Inc. Founding Chairman Louis Gerstner, former Achieve, Inc. President Robert Schwartz, and Carnegie’s Marc Tucker.
In other words, the great and powerful Carnegie is already calling for common content. It’s just a matter of time.