State, Bill Gates, Business Groups Push Common Core in Ohio

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A coalition including the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio State Board of Education, and Ohio Chamber of Commerce is fighting to defend Common Core with help from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Currently, Ohio’s New Learning Standards use the national Common Core State Standards for math and English. Legislation supported by Ohio House leadership would rewrite Ohio’s standards and remove Common Core.

The Ohio Standard was launched to promote Common Core. Many of the coalition’s members — such as Thomas B. Fordham Institute — have a vested interest in guaranteeing Common Core takes hold.

Fordham has received over $2.5 million from Gates Foundation, a key financier of Common Core, since 2011. This total includes a $1 million general operating grant awarded last year, and a $1 million grant awarded in part “to track state progress towards implementation of standards.”

Battelle for Kids registered The Ohio Standard’s web address on December 5, 2013, and The Ohio Standard began promoting Common Core on Twitter and Facebook that day. A March press release listed Battelle for Kids Communications Director Kim Ratcliff as The Ohio Standard’s media contact.

Battelle for Kids has received over $2.5 million from Gates Foundation since 2010, the year Democrat Ted Strickland’s administration agreed to implement Common Core in Ohio.

Last July, Battelle for Kids received a $249,808 Gates Foundation grant specifically “to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.”

KnowledgeWorks, another Ohio Standard supporter, received a $241,747 Gates Foundation grant for the same purpose. Gates Foundation has donated over $35 million to KnowledgeWorks since 2001.

Ohio Standard supporter Strive Partnership is a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.

Gates Foundation has given Battelle Memorial Institute more than $17 million since 2007, and awarded $300,000 in 2006. Both organizations now support The Ohio Standard.

Ohio Standard supporter Ohio PTA’s national parent received a $499,962 Gates Foundation grant last spring “to educate parents and communities on the Common Core Standards and empower leaders to create the changes needed in their school systems.”

The first Ohio Standard newsletter listed Ohio Business Roundtable’s downtown Columbus office as the coalition’s mailing address; Ohio Business Roundtable initiatives have received millions from Gates Foundation in recent years.

The Ohio Standard spokeswoman Lisa Gray is a consultant working for Gates Foundation and Philanthropy Ohio, another Ohio Standard coalition member. Prior to changing its name to Philanthropy Ohio, Ohio Grantmakers Forum received more than $2 million from Gates Foundation.

In July 2009, Ohio Grantmakers Forum was awarded a $1 million Gates Foundation grantto support the work of a coordinated, common college ready agenda and advocacy strategy for Ohio’s statewide education advocacy organizations.”

Immediately upon joining Twitter, The Ohio Standard fired off a series of the talking points Gates Foundation beneficiaries have repeated the loudest as Ohio parents, teachers, and taxpayers have voiced concerns:


The Ohio Standard is being assisted by hackneyed pro-Common Core reporting and opinion coverage from the state’s legacy press. For example, last Thursday The Columbus Dispatch ran an editorial by Michael Cohen titled, “Common Core came from the states.”

In the seventh of eight paragraphs, Cohen noted in passing that his employer helped develop Common Core. The Dispatch described him simply as “president of the education-reform group Achieve.”

The Ohio Standard shared Cohen’s op-ed, as well as the following morning’s Dispatch editorial attacking Common Core critics.

Conservatives have every reason to support the standards, which have the backing of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and conservative-leaning education-reform groups such as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,” the Dispatch editors wrote.

The Dispatch editorial board adores Republican Governor John Kasich — a Common Core supporter — and shares Kasich’s view that “conservative” means whatever the Chamber and big-government Republicans want it to mean.

Coincidentally, Dispatch publisher and editorial board member John Wolfe is a member of Ohio Business Roundtable and is also vice chairman of Columbus Partnership, another Ohio Standard coalition member.

Wolfe and his wife have contributed a total of $35,000 to Gov. Kasich’s campaigns.

The following state agencies, business organizations, foundations, and nonprofits are currently listed as “supporters” of The Ohio Standard:

  • Alliance for High Quality Education
  • Battelle
  • Battelle for Kids
  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators
  • Cincinnati Business Committee
  • Cleveland Foundation
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Coalition of Rural & Appalachian Schools
  • Columbus Partnership
  • Columbus Urban League
  • Eastern Ohio P–16
  • GAR Foundation
  • GE Foundation
  • Greater Cleveland Partnership
  • Gund Foundation
  • Inter-University Council of Ohio
  • KnowledgeWorks
  • Learn to Earn Dayton
  • Nordson Corporation Foundation
  • Ohio Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • Ohio Association of Community Colleges
  • Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators
  • Ohio Association of School Business Officials
  • Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators
  • Ohio Board of Regents
  • Ohio Business Roundtable
  • Ohio Chamber of Commerce
  • Ohio Department of Education
  • Ohio Educational Service Centers Association
  • Ohio Federation of Teachers
  • Ohio PTA
  • Ohio School Boards Association
  • Ohio State Board of Education
  • Ohio STEM Learning Network
  • Philanthropy Ohio
  • REACHigher (Lorain P–16)
  • State University Education Deans
  • Strive Partnership
  • StudentsFirst Ohio
  • Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Urban League of Greater Cleveland
  • Urban League of Southwest Ohio