As the title of this post says, there are three things you must read if you want to understand the origins of Common Core.

First is this article that appeared in the Washington Post in June 2014. It was written by Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post, and it is called “How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Swift Common Core Revolution” It is an amazing piece of reportage. Layton did her homework, then interviewed Bill Gates. She explains how he paid for everything required in the writing and development of the CC, then paid every major interest group in D.C. to support it, as well as groups across the nation. He couldn’t buy everyone, and that it why the CC has run into trouble.

Layton writes:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.

Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration.

The Gates Foundation spread money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups that have clashed in the past but became vocal backers of the standards.

Money flowed to policy groups on the right and left, funding research by scholars of varying political persuasions who promoted the idea of common standards. Liberals at the Center for American Progress and conservatives affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council who routinely disagree on nearly every issue accepted Gates money and found common ground on the Common Core.

The second must-read is Mercedes Schneider’s The Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? It was published by Teachers College Press, and it is a thorough exploration of the genesis and evolution of the CC. If the nation’s education writers read this book, they would never again state that the Common core was written by “the nation’s leading education experts” or by the governors and teachers.

The third valuable read is Terry Marselle’s “Perfectly Incorrect: Why the Common Core Is Psychologically and Cognitively Unsound.” It explores the pedagogical problems with the CCSS.

One more thing you need to know about Common Core: there is no evidence that students who master it are ready for college or careers. We won’t know whether that is true for many years. At this point, it is a claim lacking evidence. Frankly, it is difficult to understand how the same standards and tests can determine both college and career readiness.

Be informed.