Common Core

Common Core Is Crony Capitalism for Computer Companies

Who wants to bet that Core-aligned standardized testing requires Windows 8?


Bill Gates

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Bill Gates insisted that his support for the Common Core education standards was purely philosophical—he was offended by the notion that anyone would suspect him of pushing a policy that helps his own bottom line. He has no reason to peddle Common Core, he said, except that he cares deeply about the state of education in the U.S. and sincerely thinks expensive new curriculum standards and rigorous standardized testing will improve U.S. schools:

"I hope I can make this clear, I believe in the Common Core because of its substance and what it will do to improve education, and that's the only reason I believe in the Common Core. And I have no, you know, this is giving money away. This is philanthropy. This is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity I had. You, you've, there is nothinguh, it's so, almost… outrageous to say otherwise in my view."

To that end, the billionaire philanthropist has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Common Core through the advocacy efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

But wait a minute—doesn't Gates work for a pretty big computer company, or something? Oh, and doesn't the testing component of Common Core require schools to upgrade their computer software? Who wants to bet that Core-aligned standardized testing requires Windows 8?

It does! As The Post's Valerie Strauss points out, a Windows web page actually recommends that schools hurry up and buy the latest Windows software in order to enjoy a smoother transition to tech-heavy standardized testing required by Common Core:

This is not to say that that is what sparked or drove Gates' personal interest in the initiative; he has said he supports the standards because he thinks they will improve public education, and it seems fair to believe him when he says that is his motivation (whether or not the premise is actually true).

Still the fact remains that Microsoft is hoping to make some money from the implementation of the Core in classrooms.

As Strauss writes, this fact does not make Gates a liar. It seems likely he does indeed think that imposing a set of uniform standards on the states will improve students' educational outcomes. But it should underscore that massive, expensive public policy changes—even well-intentioned ones—carry ramifications for rent-seekers. (Indeed, many states only agreed to the standards because the Obama administration promised them federal grant money in exchange.)

I have already noted that Common Core looks like corporate welfare for textbook giants, since Pearson—the largest textbook company in the world—won a non-competitive government contract to design tests for half the states. It may also be crony capitalism for computer companies.

Whether or not Common Core helps Microsoft's bottom line is ultimately irrelevant to whether the policy is sound, of course. But when both Tea Party conservatives and teachers unions—as well as students, teachers, parents, and Louis CK—are complaining that the school years is being filled up with wonky high-stakes tests that are expensive to implement and impossible to prepare for, it's worth asking who proposed this bright idea. And why.

Read more Reason coverage of Common Core here.

Hat tip: Eric Owens / The Daily Caller


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  1. Windows 8 sucks ass.

    1. Yeah, yeah.

      So did

      NT 4.0
      NT 3.5
      Win 3.2
      Win 3.1
      Win 3.0
      Win 2.0
      Win 1.0

      Mention a version, any version and someone will chime in that its crappy and the worst thing since HitlerAIDS and yet Windows *continue* to beat out the competition.

      1. My brother has been doing that since XP, “I hate XP, I hate Vista, I hate …” guy still hasn’t switched to Apple OS or Linux…

        1. I thought XP and 2000 were OK. Until VirtualBox crapped out on me after an Ubuntu upgrade, I ran XP under VirtualBox for picture processing and tax software.

          I hate that Ubuntu is slowly turning into a Mac OS clone. If I wanted a Mac, I would have bought a Mac.

          1. I hate that Ubuntu is slowly turning into a Mac OS clone

            I guess they are both Unix underneath it all.

            I hate Apple OS, I really, really hate it. I like Windows for my desktop and laptop and Android for tablet and phone.

            1. Linux and Unix have differences at the kernel level. Some of the commands in /usr/bin (or /bin or where ever they happen to live) have different options, which can make scripting a pain in the ass.

              Mac OS is based on a modified BSD Unix.

          2. If someone thinks XP was bad, they forget what the alternatives were like at the time.

      2. Windows 7 ain’t too bad. Better than XP.

        1. Then only truly horrible MS OS was ME. That truly was an abomination.

          I remember back then, I would refuse to work on someone’s PC if they had ME installed on it, unless they agreed to nuke it and install another OS.

          1. I like xkcd’s take on ME.

          2. Here’s the link.

            1. That graph is actually true. The only problem is that the peak only lasts for about 10 minutes, and 5 minutes later, you just sit there staring at the screen thinking ‘what the fuck is that shit? Did I write that? What was I doing???’ And then you say fuck it for the day and get another beer.

            2. When I worked for Andersen Consulting it was very common to work from early in the morning until around 5-6 and then go to some happy hour being paid for by some AC project. Drink as much beer and eat as many appetizers as you could then go back to work again.

              I agree that there were some ingenious coding going on in the post happy hour window.

              1. Well at least one study makes the claim that problem solving skills in men seemed to get better after a few beers.


      3. I like Win7.

        1. After fixing the default configuration to be more to my way of using a computer, Win7 is okay.

          Win8 can’t be fixed to run the way I want to interact with the computer, so I hate it.

          I know what I like and I like what I know. It sums up my attitude towards OSes.

          1. Win 8 is moronic for desktops.

            I wish I weren’t so lazy, or I’d learn enough to use Linux.

          2. Win8’s not bad once you stick Classic Shell on there. The file handling is much better.

        2. I like Win7.

          All Windows sucks but yeah Windows 7 is best of class.

      4. Mention a version, any version and someone will chime in that its crappy and the worst thing since HitlerAIDS and yet Windows *continue* to beat out the competition.

        Some of us have it foisted on us by work.

        Although, I will say that most of my issues revolve around the problems the admins create for me while trying to tard-proof the computers for everyone else.

    2. I don’t understand why Windows 8 is even a thing when Windows 7 works so much better. I won’t even get into the other options outside Microsoft.

      1. Everyone I know who uses Windows 7 likes it, and everyone I know who has Windows 8 hates it.

      2. It’s all about mobile devices and metro icons. One OS for all devices. It’s really just Win 7 underneath all of that. Just upgrade to 8.1 and download a free/cheap program to give you back your standard start menu and Win 7 desktop and you won’t know the difference.

        1. Not only that, but women get better looking!

        2. That sounds like a very “Microsoft” solution.

          Buy a new OS. Install it. Buy another app to change the unendurable parts of the new OS to make it work like the old OS. If you’re successful, you’ll never know the difference.

    3. My office manager needed to upgrade her PC so without really knowing what windows 8 was like we ordered a PC with 8 installed.

      Been regretting not getting windows 7 for the last 3 months.

      Seriously easier to install a printer on Linux then it is to install one on Windows 8.

    4. It would if it could – but it can’t because it’s a POS, like everything else Microshit has ever made.

      Anyone seen Bob lately?

    5. I agree but at the end of the day they will be getting the most up to date software rather than using Windows 2000. Which most schools curriculum is 10 years beyond the out of date and not relevant.

  2. Money is just like magic fairy dust. Sprinkle liberally, and your problem disappears!

    Don’t bother your pretty, yet empty, little head with pesky questions like “How?” or “Why?”

  3. Alliteration aside, awesome article

    1. I’m surprised Common Core includes alliteration.

  4. Standardized testing the way it ought to be done:

    About the 2nd week of school, give a basic skills assessment test for the grade. At the end of the school year, give the same test again. If the student makes measurable progress, that’s good. If he doesn’t, that’s bad. If more than half the students in one class don’t make progress, you take a good long look at the teacher and the class makeup. If more than half the students in the school don’t make progress, you take a good long look at the school.

    Simply saying at the end of the year that they haven’t met some arbitrary mark is stupid without knowing where they started from at the beginning of the year. Teaching is a matter of progress — whether it’s an extreme case like my nephew who has multiple birth defects or someone like me who just never fit into the directed teaching mode of learning, the kids make progress. If they don’t make enough progress (as determined by the teacher and the parents) they don’t advance to the next grade because they haven’t mastered the skills they’ll need in the next grade.

  5. Keep in mind that Microsoft is also the largest leaseholder in the Alberta Common Core sands and actually controls the operating system of an untold number of business and political networks, communicating with coded instructions their nefarious synchronized tasks that escape most peoples attention by hiding in the background and hidden files. But we’re on to you over here, you bastards.

    1. So… Microsoft is Hydra?

  6. “I hope I can make this clear, I believe in the Common Core because of its substance and what it will do to improve education that since I had my turn striking it big time rich by being an entrepreneur, that no one else needs a chance to do that, instead the government should just funnel all the remaining chances, directly to me, via cronyism”


    1. Well, he *is* a Top Man now. Who better to know what to do with those chances? You wouldn’t want to *squander* that, would you?

  7. it’s worth asking who proposed this bright idea

    Um, Top Men?

    And why

    For the best of intentions? And because FYTW?

  8. I remember when Bill Gates gave my upper class suburban school $50,000 in computers for the gifted education students. That’s the kind of charity that actually makes sense: Giving tools to people who have a real chance to make a difference in the world instead of trying to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

  9. And I have no, you know, this is giving money away. This is philanthropy.

    Stop using the moral righteousness of philanthropy to shield your behavior from scrutiny.

  10. It seems likely he does indeed think that imposing a set of uniform standards on the states will improve students’ educational outcomes.

    He’s a true believer, likewise about foreign aid:…..with-fire/

    The lady asked: “Mr. Gates, Dead Aid, a book by Dambisa Moyo, illustrates that giving more aid to Africa over the course of the years did not alleviate poverty, instead it kept the economy crippled with governments asking for more aid. This fluke made a cycle of aid giving which resulted in nothing productive and it has not been used to solve the immediate problems and the money is not being used to make businesses sustainable in Africa. What’s the foundation’s view in this regard?”

    Gates, who claims to have read the book, said in response that the author “didn’t know much about aid and what it was doing in Africa,” adding that “Books like that are promoting evil.”

    1. If you assiduously believe that intentions trump results, any question of efficacy impugns your intent.

    2. Gates believes that he’s supposed to be a ‘liberal’. That thought virus has fucked up better people than him.

  11. Locally here in Minnesota there are a LOT of gigs for front end JavaScript programmers in the educational testing field. A lot of good paying gigs. My guess is that the educational grant money is flowing into them to the point where they are willing to overpay to get bodies in the door.

  12. I look forward to Gates rebutting the cronyism claim by announcing that Microsoft will upgrade any school to 8 for free.

  13. I’d like to point out that he doesn’t WORK for Microsoft anymore. He just collects dividends. That’s not workin’

  14. Bill Gates has always been about Bill Gates.
    Gates and Microsoft worked to undermine any standards they couldn’t control.

    There is NO REASON that a testing program should require a new operating system. If they’re locking Common Core to Windblows 8, it’s intentional and unnecessary.

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