wizard of oz


Those of us following the news that slithers out from beneath the rock of the Common Core initiative know names like Bill Gates and David Coleman. Another person to watch very closely is Lou Gerstner. Why? He’s a man of many talents, and powerful positions from which he has launched his own vision for education. At the roots of the Common Core and new testing mandates you can find Mr. Gerstner. Before we launch into his bio, let’s take a look at his educational philosophy. Mr. Gerstner is co-author of Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools (Dutton 1994). He states the following as sound policies:

1) Abolish all local school districts, save 70 (50 states; 20 largest cities). Some states may choose to leave some of the rest as community service organizations, but they would have no direct involvement in the critical task of establishing standards, selecting teachers, and developing curricula.

2) Establish a set of national standards for a core curriculum. I would suggest we start with four subjects: reading, math, science and social studies.

3) Establish a National Skills Day on which every third, sixth, ninth and 12th-grader would be tested against the national standards. Results would be published nationwide for every school in America.

4) Establish national standards for teacher certification and require regular re-evaluations of teacher skills. Increase teacher compensation to permit the best teachers (as measured by advances in student learning) to earn well in excess of $100,000 per year, and allow school leaders to remove underperforming teachers.

5) Extend the school day and the school year to effectively add 20 more days of schooling for all K-12 students.

Any of this sounding familiar yet?

So becoming the co-founder and co-chair of ACHIEVE (from 1996-2002), the company that won the contract to develop and manage Common Core (along with CCSSO and NGA of course)….he could see his vision coming to fruition.

But let’s go back a little further.

Mr. Gerstner was a director of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Co., Inc., which he joined in 1965. There’s not enough room in this blog post to expound on why this is important. But it is. Please see more on McKinsey and Big Data here

In 1989, according to Susan Ohanian,  “Lou Gerstner joined hands with Arkansas governor Bill Clinton to lead the effort (for education reform). Gerstner and his Business Roundtable cronies got to name the problem and define the solution, which was a relabeled Business Roundtable plan calling for school choice, competition, and a massive infusion of technology. It was signed into federal law as America 2000. “

He served as a Director of Council on Foreign Relations. This also requires additional reading to see why this is important. But CFR had a big hand in establishing Common Core standards and data tracking.

Mr. Gerstner is vice chairman of the New American Schools Development Corporation.

Gerstner served as a CEO for IBM beginning in 1993 (considered a mogul by some) and is currently chairman of the Carlyle Group, a global asset management firm.

His latest position with Carlyle is becoming quite the savvy business move. Why?

In 2007, Apollo Group and The Carlyle Group Formed $1 billion joint venture called Apollo Global to make investments in the international education services sector

In summary: “Apollo Global Management now joins Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, itself a subsidiary of private equity, among the ‘big three’ of educational publishers, with News Corporation, the international media conglomerate, looking to apply pressure. All four of those companies have made major financial and personnel moves in the past year, as they jockey for position in an increasingly digitized market that is also bracing for the upcoming Common Core State Standards.”

And the contracts are rolling in. The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has approved Carnegie Learning(®) Common Core Math Programs for implementation in the state through 2018.Carnegie Learning, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Group, Inc.

As we move forward, fighting against the corporate takeover of public education, let’s please add Lou Gerstner  to our list of people to keep a close eye on. He hasn’t wandered off too far.

Published by educationalchemy

Morna McDermott has been an educator for over twenty years in both k-12 and post secondary classrooms. She received her doctorate in education, with a dissertation focus on arts-based educational research, from The University of Virginia in 2001. Morna's teaching, scholarship, and activism center around the ways in which creativity, art, social justice, and democracy can transform education and empower communities. She is currently a Professor of Education at Towson University.


  1. Good background history of beginnings of fundamental changes that were promised, but people heard through deaf ears!

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