Flow Chart Exposes Common Core's Myriad Corporate Connections
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Vitaliy Krasovskiy
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U.S. education reform isn't so much a "Race to the Top," because no matter which schools climb to the top of the ladder first, corporations always win.
Morna McDermott mapped the Common Core State Standard Initiative's corporate connections in a new flow chart, which reveals how corporations and organizations that are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have funded and perpetuated Common Core standards throughout the states.
ALEC has been funded for decades in large part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, about 98 percent of ALEC's funds come from corporations such as Exxon Mobil and corporate foundations like the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.
The Common Core State Standard Initiative is part of the larger Race to the Top educational policy announced by President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2009. It seeks to implement new Common Core educational benchmarks to replace varying educational standards from state to state by awarding grants to states that comply with the initiative. The standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The chart illuminates a larger corporate agenda that seeks market-based education reforms and increased influence over public education in the United States. With defense and security expenditures slowing, corporations are looking to profit from new cloud-based software used to collect and mine information from student records to create individualized education programs designed by third-party companies.
McDermott is a teacher-educator with more than 20 years of experience working in and with public schools. McDermott also serves as a section editor for the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy and recently published a book titled "The Left Handed Curriculum: Creative Experiences for Empowering Teachers" with Information Age Publishing. She is an administrator with United Opt Out National, a nonprofit created by parents, educators and students who are dedicated to the elimination of high-stakes testing in public education.
She researched and produced the information on her own, but the work is endorsed and supported by the United Opt Out National network. McDermott told Truthout she used a systems-based approach in her research to show the concepts in relationship to one another, and that it's just another example of a different method of teaching and learning.
McDermott says she works to fight standards and testing because they divert funds and attention away from the real issue in education, which is poverty. "The whole thing about better tests and if we had better standards is like a bait-and-switch … so nobody pays attention to the real issues," she said.
McDermott mentions a number of corporations and organizations prying for influence over the Common Core standards. Among them is Achieve Inc., a company widely funded by ALEC members, including Boeing and State Farm, among others.
McDermott also points to peer-reviewed academic research originally published in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation by Fenwick English titled "The Ten Most Wanted Enemies of American Public Education's School Leadership." In his research English looks at many of the players involved in the same network that McDermott maps with clarity, writing of the Eli Broad Foundation that:
Broad money is sloshed behind the scenes to elect or select candidates who "buy" the Broad corporate agenda in education. ... Broad's enemies are teacher unions, school boards, and schools of education. What all three have in common is that they eschew corporate, top-down control required in the Broad business model.
According to McDermott, America's Choice, another part of Common Core's corporate web, originally was founded as a program of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. But in 2004, the group was reorganized as a for-profit subsidiary of NCEE.