Warning: Gates is Infiltrating Opt Out



Okay.  If this isn’t enough to convince you that Corporate Opt-Out is real and is trying to co-opt the grassroots opt-out movement, I don’t know what will:

This Saturday, Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) will host an “Opt-Out Campaign Launch” with the Center for Collaborative Education – an organization funded by the Gates Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, IBM, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Yes – you read that right. Gates is helping to sponsor an Opt-Out event.

Several months ago, in a post called “Cashing in on Opt-Out,” I tried to show that the testing and ed-tech industries have long been aware of an impending shift away from the big, end-of-year high stakes test toward systems of embedded, competency-based testing, where grade levels no longer matter.

If you’ve not yet seen it, please read this article by former Gates executive and venture capitalist Tom Vander Ark, called “The End of the Big Test: Moving to Competency-Based Policy,” which spells out this agenda in detail.

Then check out this document and look carefully at the section below, where standardized tests are predicted to be “obsolete” by the year 2017:


Screen shot 2016-01-05 at 6.25.49 PM.png

Here’s what it boils down to:

Corporate Reformers – including Gates – don’t want end-of-year grade-level tests any more they we do.   What they want, instead, are “competency-based” assessment “systems” that track everything your child does in the classroom.

Clever little devils that they are, they are now busy trying to co-opt the same movement that is protesting their takeover of our schools by sponsoring their own opt-out events and calling for “assessment reform.”

But let’s be really clear: “assessment reform” is corporate reform.

Sorry Bill, but we see through you.




PS – Keep Opting Out!  …but call out #FAKEOPTOUT when you see it.























Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

5 thoughts on “Warning: Gates is Infiltrating Opt Out”

  1. Hi, Emily. I just wanted to clarify CCE’s position on testing. CCE has had a long-standing board-approved policy against high-stakes testing. In fact, I resigned many years ago from the MA Department of Education, as Director of Curriculum & Instruction, in protest of the move toward adoption of the state’s incoming MCAS test. Our funding from Nellie Mae has supported our development of our Quality Performance Assessment initiative, which led our assisting the NH DOE to design their new Performance Assessment for Competency Education accountability system, which in turn influenced the recent ESSA language to allow up to seven states to opt out of standardized testing in lieu of developing local assessments. Our IBM funding is to support our work with in-district Pilot schools in Boston. Our USDOE funding has gone to create new social justice-oriented leadership and teacher preparation programs (2/3rds teachers of color) in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District). People may want to read my 1998 Kappan article on The State’s Role in Shaping a Progressive Vision of Public Education. Happy to answer any questions about our where our funding goes to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In looking at the CCE website, it is sadly clear that there are financial benefits to be gained in retreating from the fight against MCAS, as French did 20 years ago. Mr. French speaks proudly about his Board’s statement against high stakes testing, as if that statement ever had any influence on Corp Ed’s 20+ years of educational terrorism in MA. By the way, that statement is nowhere to be found on the CCE website.

      Meanwhile, Mr. French and his small cadre “non-partisans” (those who find the status quo comfortable enough to do nothing about it) continue their boutique operation aimed, somehow, to standardize what they call authentic performance assessment, an oxymoronic concept that defies standardization even in theory.

      No doubt Mr. French is good Democrat who believes that his pronouncemnents almost 20 years ago have permanently sanctified his inaction against the self-serving billionaires who pay his salary. What his work shows clearly is the patina of progressivism that is enough to satisfy those unaffected by the educational genocide going on across America.


  2. Hi,

    Do you have a link to the “Opt-out Campaign Launch”?

    On a more general note, do you have any links to examples of the “competency-based” assessments in Maine? (or elsewhere) There is a lot of material written *about* such assessments in the various documents you link to, but I am curious to see actual examples of such assessments, particularly for ELA, science, and social studies. If I am understanding this right, the competency-based personalized learning would have to rely on automatic feedback from the software. Is that correct? It seems to me that this is something that is possible for math (not that it would necessarily be the way I would like to see it taught), but it is very difficult for me to imagine it for other subjects without committing serious educational malpractice, given the state of automatic scoring software.




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