Can GE Bring Common Core to Life?

Last week the GE Foundation, the charity associated with General Electric, announced they intend to donate $18 million to support the implementation of the Common Core.  Though some critics are expected to be up in arms over a private corporation getting involved in education reform, Time’s Andrew Rotherham believes the gift will put into sharp relief the lack of “meaningful corporate involvement” in the movement.

The gift is earmarked for Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit consulting firm whose leader (David Coleman) helped develop the Common Core.  The money will be used to create teacher training institutes, build an online resource- and lesson-sharing tool, and help teachers model best practices.  Though corporate involvement in education reform is currently a hot topic, Rotherham believes it is more of a sideshow and that “as a rule, corporations are skittish about taking on the really contentious issues in education reform.”  They don’t want to antagonize politicians about education issues when more personally relevant issues, such as tax policy, are already under scrutiny.  “Education reform pays off over generations; corporations want friends in government right now.”

So, the GE announcement is noteworthy because it appears the company is entering the REAL education reform debate.  The Common Core is not universally popular, and for more conservative or business-friendly politicians a shared set of standards is viewed suspiciously.  Bob Corcoran, president of the GE Foundation, explains the Foundation’s position as one of helping an “incredibly hard-won achievement” of developing common standards a chance to be implemented successfully.

So, says Rotherham, forget the rhetoric.  “And forget, for a moment, whether you agree with the Common Core project.  When school reform gets tough, mettle and commitment from companies is pretty rare.”

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