Is Bill Gates Responsible for Common Core?

Despite the fact that educational standards known as the Common Core were largely based on what were Georgia’s educational standards, were championed by Governor Sonny Perdue, and were announced at Gwinnett County’s Peachtree Ridge High School, one cannot help but find conspiracy theories about how these standards originated, and what they mean for education.

One such theory holds that Common Core is an effort by Bill Gates to have his Microsoft Corporation get rich by developing software that will teach the curriculum aligned to the standards.

The Washington Post published some enterprise reporting over the last few days, including posting a half hour interview with Gates recorded in March, and a long story detailing how Gates came to support the Common Core standards.

In the interview, Gates shies away from the conspiracy theory angle, saying he is only interested in improving educational outcomes:

“The country as a whole has a huge problem that low-income kids get less good education than suburban kids get,” Gates said. “And that is a huge challenge. . . . Education can get better. Some people may not believe that. Education can change. We can do better.”

“There’s a lot of work that’s gone into making these [standards] good,” Gates continued. “I wish there was a lot of competition, in terms of [other] people who put tens of millions of dollars into how reading and writing could be improved, how math could be improved.”

“These are not political things,” he said. “These are where people are trying to apply expertise to say, ‘Is this a way of making education better?’ ”

“At the end of the day, I don’t think wanting education to be better is a right-wing or left-wing thing,” Gates said. “We fund people to look into things. We don’t fund people to say, ‘Okay, we’ll pay you this if you say you like the Common Core.’ ”

An effort to remove or reduce the role of Common Core in Georgia failed during the 2014 legislative session. Meanwhile support for the Common Core Standards remains one of the major differences between Mike Buck and Richard Woods in the State School Superintendent’s runoff.

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