April 27, 2011; Source: Washington Examiner | The Gates Foundation plans to invest $20 million toward the development of “new national education standards.” According to the Washington Examiner, the foundation will be “using game-based learning, social-networking and other approaches to capture the imagination of bored or unmotivated students.” Maybe Gates knows something we don’t. Maybe “bored or unmotivated” is the norm that new school standards should address.
In any case, Gates is “partnering with the nonprofit arm” of a huge textbook publisher which will work with Gates to “create the new learning tools . . . [and work] with education game developers and an online public school in Florida for this project.” The publisher, the Pearson Foundation, says that the Gates money will give the textbook company “the money it really needs to really innovate and try out new ideas that catch kids’ attention,” obviously to take advantage of America’s Choice, described by the Examiner as “an education reform company acquired last year by Pearson.”
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The website of America’s Choice reveals that it has long been focused on core standards, and other sites show that the firm has had many government contracts on education. But the board of America’s Choice isn’t easily located on either its or Pearson’s website. The partnership has the feel of foundation support for a for-profit vendor/consultant, notwithstanding the “Foundation” surname of the publisher and the dot.org address of America’s Choice.—Rick Cohen