The charitable organization funded by Bill Gates has given more than $44 million to outside groups during the last two years in an attempt to help shape individual states’ education plans.
According to an analysis by The Associated Press, the spending by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded research supportive of Gates’ interests, bought positive media coverage and helped give the organization a say in Tennessee’s new education framework.
The spending of the fund began just after Former President Barack Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. That law gave states the power to write their own frameworks for their education systems, as well as receive federal funding for sticking to those frameworks. However, it also required a set of academic standards, which for most states is Common Core.
Gates has been a vocal advocate for Common Core standards and has sought to promote those standards as states work to write their education plans. The AP also reported that the leader of an advocacy group funded by Gates was part of an important advisory committee in Tennessee, as the state sought to develop its new education plan.
Gates also paid a media outlet to cover ESSA, and the same media outlet later published a story about research paid for by Gates, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, vocal opponents of Common Core and Gates’ influence stated that the spending by the Microsoft co-founder’s philanthropy could be considered as meddling in state education. The Gates Foundation’s focus on education reform in the U.S. is just a small part of its overall work, which mainly focuses on global health and international development, especially in undeveloped countries.
However, it is the top funder of school reform in the country.