Common Core and Corporate Colonization: The Big Picture

I said it over three years ago and I’ll say it again. Common Core was, and is, an agenda crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was never about “communism,” or “socialism.” It was the state and federal governments serving as the delivery boys for the privatization of public education at the hands of global corporate interests (think: Trans Pacific Partnership and UNESCO).

Here’s a summary of what follows in a nutshell in the words of white paper authors entitled Redefining Teacher Education for Digital-Age Learners:

“Establish common national competency standards for digital-age educators. This is the next logical step to the Common Core State Standards. Common national competency standards must address 21st century skills and be informed by existing standards such as the UNESCO Competency Framework for Teachers,43 the ISTE National Education Standards for Teachers,44 and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) Standards.45 The competency standards need to reward continuous improvement, dynamism, and evidence of responsiveness to changing conditions. Common national competency standards would eliminate issues caused by varying degrees of support from states and local entities for the changes needed to prepare educators across the United States for 21st century learning. Common competency standards will ensure state-to-state reciprocity.”

What are the outcomes?

Outsourcing K-12 education, eliminating teachers (union busting), eliminating Colleges of Education, data mining, creating for-profit alternative certification programs, and outsourcing teacher preparation to online corporations.

How: 1) Create a set of “common”standards, 2) break standards down into modules called student learning outcomes (SLO’s), 3) use SLO’s to manufacture Competency-Based Education (CBE) framework, which..4) can be provided by private/corporate entities via online education and technology-driven resources (no classroom or teacher…or school, required).

So let’s begin.

Common Core is the alpha and omega of this process. The end results of the Common Core plan directly reflect the model bills developed by ALEC (whose goals include: privatizing public education by outsourcing content, teachers, and schools to online education tech companies). With Lamar Alexander and John King at the helm, it’s a fait accompli. The only “human capital” left to be mined will be children.

Each step of this progression (described below/see visual chart at end) includes a few examples of evidence to support each step. These examples are by no means the ONLY examples, they are merely a sampling. This also does NOT cover the correlation between CCSS outcomes and CHARTER SCHOOLS (a whole separate post would be needed for that).


Start with the Who Created Common Core (CCSS).

Remember this?

JPEGLabyrinth Slide (2)

(Common Core flow chart made by Morna McDermott, made Power Point by Karen Bracken)

The same organizations that crafted CCSS are marketing and profiting from the outcomes. A majority of the corporations and politicians invested in CCSS are also members of ALEC.

The Business Roundtable (member of ALEC) notes: Recommendation: Create national standards for portable, ‘stackable’ credentials for certificates, apprenticeships and pathways for earning credit at two- and four-year programs.”

According to a promotional flyer created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

“Education leaders have long talked about setting rigorous standards and allowing students more or less time as needed to demonstrate mastery of subjects and skills. This has been more a promise than a reality, but we believe it’s possible with the convergence of the Common Core State Standards, the work on new standards-based assessments, the development of new data systems, and the rapid growth of technology-enabled learning experiences.” 

Elements of the re-authorization of ESEA (“Every Child Achieves Act”) make this possible. In my previous blog:

“It lets states develop accountability systems – restoring to states the responsibility for determining how to use federally required tests for accountability purposes. States will also be permitted to include other measures of student and school performance in their accountability systems in order to provide teachers, parents, and other stakeholders with a more accurate determination of school performance. In addition to opening the flood gates to charter schools (aka online edu tech companies), “This bill affirms a State’s responsibility to identify and eliminate barriers to the coordination and integration of programs, initiatives, and funding streams, and provide technical assistance and training in order to disseminate best practices.”


From Common Core, Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s) can be created.  A Student Learning Objective is an academic goal for a teacher’s students that is set at the start of a course. “It represents the most important learning for the year (or, semester, where applicable). It must be specific and measurable, based on available prior student learning data, and aligned to Common Core, State, or National Standards, as well as any other school and District priorities.”

  • CTAC, the Boston-based Institute for Compensation Reform and Student Learning at the Community Training and Assistance Center partners with departments of education to develop and promote SLO’s. William Slotnik is executive director of CTAC. He advocates for VAM and merit pay schemes. “William Slotnik,… has argued that performance-based compensation tied directly to the educational mission of a school district can be a lever to transform schools.”
  • NASBE Annual Conference (2012). Common Core State Standards. The panel consisted of David Coleman, “The Architect of the Common Core,” along with Christopher Koch (CCSSO and CAEP), Illinois superintendent of schools, and Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
  • According to CAEP, Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) provide summative effectiveness ratings based in part on Student Growth, defined as a positive change in achievement.
  • Vamboozled writes: “The structure of a typical SLO is now determined by a national system of data gathering funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Department of Education.”
  • In 2010 presentation at United States Mission to UNESCO, Arne Duncan cites Sir Michael Barber (now CEO at Pearson, and advocate for corporate model reform) and says:

    Sir Michael Barber’s book, Instruction to Deliver, reminds us that the unglamorous work of reform matters enormously. He urges us to ask five questions that are almost the opposite of the compliance-driven process of technical assistance that has prevailed at the U.S. Department of Education.

    His five, disarmingly simple questions are:
     What are you trying to do?
     How are you trying to do it?
     How do you know you are succeeding?
     If you’re not succeeding, how will you change things?
     And last yet not least, how can we help you?


For More See:

From SLO’s, competency-based instruction and assessment can be “streamlined” and used to evaluate students, teachers, schools and teacher preparation programs via new (or alternative) “accountability” systems.

  • One blog states: “Competency-based education has been part of Achieve’s strategic plan for a few years, … states and national organizations that have made this topic a priority: Nellie Mae Education Foundation, iNACOL, Digital Learning Now, CCSSO and NGA.”
  • Pearson. “With competency-based education, institutions can help students complete credentials in less time, at lower cost.”
  • CCSSO Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP) project.
  • Competency Based Education Network (C-BEN). Funded by Lumina.
  • Also see Emily Talmage expose on CBE’s here.


For More See:

Because CBE is modulated it can be streamlined into online education systems. CBE directly aligns with “Open Badges” and online competency programs which can replace traditional classrooms AND teachers, and teacher preparation programs.

  • Digital Learning Now!, is a national initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
  • New Student Learning Objectives Management Tool Ensuring an Effective Educator for Every Student: partnership between CTAC and TRUENORTHLOGIC.
  • Digital badges for teacher mastery: an exploratory study of a competency-based professional development badge system CCT REPORTS (NOVEMBER 2014).
  • Open Badges: “Improving Competency-Based and Online Education: pathway to accreditation for competency-based and online education advocates … competency-based education is beginning to partner with online education.”
  • From Edutopia: “One of the main goals of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to prepare students for “college- and career-ready performance.” Badges can acknowledge the learning that has occurred along the way.”
  • Pearson has unveiled Acclaim, an Open Badge platform designed for academic institutions, professional associations and other credentialing programs.
  • Need more evidence? “The nonprofit behind this digital push, Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, is funded by online learning companies: K12 Inc., Pearson (which recently bought Connections Education), Apex Learning (a for-profit online education company launched by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen), Microsoft and McGraw-Hill Education among others. The advisory board for Bush’s ten digital elements agenda reads like a Who’s Who of education-technology executives, reformers, bureaucrats and lobbyists, including Michael Stanton, senior vice president for corporate affairs at Blackboard; Karen Cator, director of technology for the Education Department; Jaime Casap, a Google executive in charge of business development for the company’s K-12 division; Shafeen Charania, who until recently served as marketing director of Microsoft’s education products department; and Bob Moore, a Dell executive in charge of “facilitating growth” of the computer company’s K-12 education practice.”
  • And the game.set.match for Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, co founder of Achieve:  Obama Administration Announces More than $375 Million in Support for Next-Generation High Schools: “Commitments to develop and launch 100 next-generation schools serving more than 50,000 students over the next five years, including IBM’s commitment to support an additional 25 P-TECH schools and totaling more than 125 in development over three years, the New Tech Network expanding to an additional 50 schools, Silicon Schools Fund investing $40 million to launch 40 more schools, EDWorks’ new campaign to seed 12 early-college high schools in the South, and the Institute for Student Achievement tripling the number of high school students they serve from 25,000 students to 75,000 students.”


For More See:

CAEP is the new accrediting body being formed through the unification of two organizations charged with assuring quality in educator preparation—the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).

College Board was founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education.

  • Now, with the two main original architects of Common Core, Chris Koch (now President of CEAP) and David Coleman (now President of College Board), at the helm of the two most influential university-level organizations, Common Core can be actualized via competency-based instruction at universities, and delivers courses (and teacher education preparation) by online (outsourced) providers.
  • Chris Koch served on the Board of the Council for Chief State School (CCSSO) (architect and funder of Common Core) for a number of years and served as President from 2010-11. In addition, he was selected by the Council to serve on the Presidential transition team in 2008. He also served on the Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting, a national commission that developed more rigorous performance standards for accreditation of educator preparation programs.
  • Koch endorses NCTQ: “State School Superintendent Chris Koch, Democrats for Education Reform, Advance Illinois and two former CEOs of Chicago Public Schools endorsed the NCTQ review.” NCTQ is a corporate-constructed mechanism for branding Colleges of Education as “failures” and ripe for “innovative” take-overs.
  • In February of 2012, CAEP announced: “In order to help ensure that every classroom in the nation has an effective teacher, a high profile Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting will develop rigorous accreditation standards for educator preparation that will raise the bar for preparation providers, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) announced today.” The announcement adds: “Support in helping to underwrite the costs of the Commission is provided by Tk20, Inc., Pearson, and Educational Testing Service (ETS). Tk20, Inc. and ETS are providing support for Commission meetings, and Pearson is providing support for outreach”
  • C-BEN. Competency Based Education Network “is an ‘incubator’ that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding through its Next Generation Learning Challenges grant, which is managed by Educause … competency-based programs share goals with the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), a Lumina-funded effort …”
  • iNACOL.  Redefining Teacher Education: K-12 Online-Blended Learning and Virtual Schools
  • Language of the connections between iNACOL, Common Core and UNESCO can be found here: “One of UNESCO’s newest education efforts is guiding mobile learning as a strategy for reaching the Education for All goal, given the ubiquity of mobile phones, especially in the developing world, and the growth in low-cost tablet computers (Vosloo, 2012) … As K-12 schools consider and adopt mobile learning approaches to increase student access to learning experiences, “flip the classroom” to expand learning time and increase engagement, personalize learning of Common Core standards, and broaden avenues for teacher communities of practice, school leaders are seeking models and evidence that mobile learning programs work.”
  • and here: “Today, states are collaborating in more ways than ever on the goals of college and career readiness building on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This guide is meant to help educational institutions and state governments understand the benefits of fostering deeper learning and personalized learning through open educational resources (OER). Open educational resources (OER) are learning materials licensed in such a way as to freely permit educators to share, access, and collaborate in order to customize and personalize content and instruction … UNESCO OER Toolkit:”


Elements of each of the initiatives outlined here (CCSS, SLO’s, CBE, online outsourcing, higher education) can be seen in the language of these bills:

For more ALEC model bills also see Mercedes Schneider post. 


The 2011 ALEC Annual Conference Substantive Agenda on Education shows their current interests:

“…the Task Force voted on several proposed bills and resolutions, with topics including: digital learning, the Common Core State Standards, charter schools, curriculum on free enterprise, taxpayers’ savings grants, amendments to the existing model legislation on higher education accountability, and a comprehensive bill that incorporates many components of the landmark school reforms Indiana passed this legislative session. Attendees will hear a presentation on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ initiative to grow great schools, as well as one on innovations in higher education.”

Peggy Robertson reminds us: “Revolution continues to be the only answer. If the test and punish system remains in any shape or form – then the structure remains for them to move silently forward with a new paradigm shift that will appear – at first – almost invisible to the public. Any sort of weak stance on our part that accepts any part of their plan allows them to move more quickly.”



(click to enlarge and view)

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.

14 thoughts on “Common Core and Corporate Colonization: The Big Picture

  1. This is so disturbing! Thank you Morna for presenting it so effectively. We have to understand the agenda in its full expression in order to confront it and dismantle it. So is this what Peggy Robertson means by the co-opting of Opt Out? The message seems to be: We’re listening–too many standardized tests! So the answer is that “teaching” becomes constant assessment by computer algorithm, with constant data collection, tracking children personally for their slot in the workforce (or the military or prison). Perfect double-speak–personalization is really impersonalization, and critical thinking is really compliance.

  2. WOW. This is a great article. It’s so deepingly sickening! I wish everyone could come to see what many of us are seeing. AND I haven’t yet been able to digest K-12 being pushed more and moe to be online! AHH!!!! Here is a book I co-wrote with my husband on the billionaires’ attacks on all sides… their weapons… from common core and its tests, to TFA to charter schools to fake online schools…to the Pearson GED and to the fakeness of this “economic recovery”. Keep up the great work!

  3. ICK! Thanks for connecting the dots so succinctly. Now I have to go and take a hot shower with lots of soap!

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