Bill Gates: Common Core Not a Federal Takeover of Schools

Image: Bill Gates: Common Core Not a Federal Takeover of Schools

Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 10:51 AM

By Greg Richter

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates says opposition to the Common Core education standards is based on a lack of understanding, and he thinks they eventually will be a "big win" for education in the United States.

The controversial new standards for math and language have been adopted by 45 states with $4 billion in funding from President Barack Obama's stimulus package. But some of those states, including New York, have begun to back away as teachers and parents have complained they are being poorly implemented.

Conservative groups have complained that the national standards amount to a federal takeover of the education system.

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But in a pre-recorded interview aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Gates insisted that isn't so. He and other business groups have produced an ad advocating implementation of Common Core.

"It doesn't tell you how to teach. It's not a federal takeover. Nobody's pushing for that," Gates told ABC.

Like the diverse group opposing Common Core, some unlikely bedfellows favor it. In addition to businesses, President Barack Obama, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush back the tougher standards.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have produced TV ads aimed at conservatives who oppose Common Core. They are set to begin airing on Fox News Channel and other outlets on Sunday.

"I think it's such an exciting thing to have high standards, to have quality standards, and to have consistent standards," Gates said. "I'm thrilled this is moving forward and disappointed that through confusion and various groups, its implementation is actually at risk in some states."

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, recently said, "You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of Common Core is worse."

Gates pointed out the rollout is being done on a state-by-state basis and admitted, "In some locations they have a legitimate point."

In New York, legislators are calling for a two-year moratorium after test scores sank there. Only a third of elementary and middle school students passed.

"When we go to higher standards there is a transition where you'll see the way we've been teaching math is not good enough," Gates said.

America is falling behind other countries because, even though those countries teach less per year, they make sure students understand what they are taught, he said. In the United States, students are taught a larger amount, but "you're getting shallow knowledge on a regular basis."

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