FOLLOW THE MONEY: Microsoft’s Plan To Cash In On Common Core

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No great American philanthropist ever got to be a great American philanthropist without first becoming a great American business tycoon.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is no different, and now The Washington Post has reported that his company conveniently stands to make a ton of cash from the implementation of Common Core in public school classrooms across America — largely at the expense of taxpayers.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has used up over $200 million in an effort to push the Common Core Standards Initiative in the last couple years.

On the Microsoft Web site, a webpage dated April 22, 2014 entitled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” describes in considerable detail how schools using computer-based, Common Core-aligned tests will now need to spend a bunch of money — on Microsoft products.

“Ready or not,” Microsoft warns, “testing for the State Standards is about to become a reality for schools in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and four US territories. That means a switch to online testing beginning the spring of 2015.”

Later on comes the sales pitch:

For many schools, time is running out. In a report issued by Smarter Balanced in 2012, it found that 56.1 percent of K–12 schools reporting were still running on aging Windows XP, which had an end of service (EOS) date of April 8, 2014. In the face of this looming cutoff of support, it’s recommended by IT professionals to migrate to the new Windows as soon as possible.

Microsoft additionally advises schools to upgrade “all units” “to a minimum of 1 GB of internal memory” and to make sure their screens and processors are up to snuff. (Wouldn’t you know it: in some cases, “Power Macs are not supported.”) Schools might also need to outlay tax dollars on Internet connections and hardware such as headphones.

“Early adopting schools have seen first hand [sic] the classroom benefits to upgrading ahead of the testing, proving that innovation in the classroom inspires both student conference and school readiness.”

In an interview with the Post this spring, Gates got testy when interviewer Lyndsey Layton confronted him about whether his business interests have driven his intense interest in Common Core.

“What is it that you’re saying?” Gates asked “It’s all a lot of self-interest?”

A bit of cross talk later he said: “There’s no connection. There’s no connection to Common Core and any Microsoft thing.”

“Do you seriously think that the reason I like the Common Core is for some self-interested reason?” Gates then asked indignantly.

Then Gates said: “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.”

Many of the opportunities Gates had as a Coke-bottle-glasses-wearing youngster came at Lakeside School, Seattle’s most elite, fancypants private school. Despite their ardent support for Common Core, Bill and Melinda Gates have sent his own kids to Lakeside, where Common Core-aligned testing does not appear to be in use. (Bill Gates loves Common Core for your kids, BUT NOT HIS)

A spokesman from Microsoft insisted that the company is not primarily concerned with using Common Core to increase revenue.

“Microsoft has an established record of working with educators to provide solutions for teachers and students, that long predates and is little affected by the Common Core standards,” the spokesman said in a statement obtained by the Post. “Microsoft’s education efforts include technology, professional development, content and community for teachers, and a wide range of device and curriculum partnerships, all of which play a part in modernizing education and helping prepare students for college and careers.”

Last month, in effort to respond to a growing national wave of criticism of Common Core, the Gates Foundation asked schools to shelve any plans for using Common Core-associated standardized tests to assess teachers or students for the next two years. (RELATED: Now Bill Gates Demands That Common Core Tests Be POINTLESS For Two Years)

On Friday, the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union, opened its biannual convention by announcing a step back from its support for Common Core education standards. (RELATED: Teachers Union Abruptly Breaks Rank On Common Core)

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