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Michelle Malkin: Pushing Back Against Common Core’s Deep-Pockets Lobbyists

Attention, class: A Common Core mouthpiece wants to rap my knuckles with his Gates Foundation-funded ruler. In response to my column two weeks ago about the marketing overlords pushing the Fed Ed racket, Chad Colby of Achieve Inc. demanded corrections. Let’s go to school.

“I wanted to take a moment to highlight two points that were incorrect regarding Achieve,” Colby complained. “Contrary to Ms. Malkin’s assertion, Achieve employs no lobbyists and we never have.”

No? Never? Someone didn’t do his homework.

Mr. Colby, meet Patricia Sullivan. She’s the founding executive director of Achieve and a career lobbyist who has bounced around D.C. for the past quarter-century in influence-peddling positions for the Gates Foundation-funded National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Center on Education Policy. She has “advocated” for trade groups, a teachers union and her own “consulting firm.” That’s Washington-speak for “lobbying.”

And let me introduce Mr. Colby to Ronn Robinson, a founding senior vice president of Achieve and veteran Democratic and corporate education lobbyist for former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner and Boeing. According to The Hill newspaper’s column titled, ahem, “Lobbying World,” Not-a-Lobbyist Robinson left Achieve several years ago to lobby for the D.C.-based National Center on Education and the Economy.

NCEE is the multimillion-dollar Gates Foundation-funded advocacy (read: “lobbying”) group founded by Marc Tucker, the godfather of Common Core-style schemes and top-down control masquerading as “reform.” He has dominated the D.C. education-lobbying scene since before Bill Clinton was in office. Like Achieve, Tucker’s NCEE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that crusades for ever-increasing federal involvement in every aspect of education while denying its brazen lobbying activities.

In the early 1990s, NCEE (established with $5 million in New York taxpayer-funded seed grants) paid Hillary Clinton more than $100,000 to direct the group’s “Workforce Skills Program” while she worked at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas. After the Clintons moved into the White House, Tucker sent a now-infamous letter to Hillary Clinton outlining a radical progressive plan “to remold the entire American system” through a centralized national-standards Trojan Horse.

Tucker’s proposal represented “a new approach to government" by elitist bureaucrats to “create a seamless web" that “literally extends from cradle to grave." The Clinton White House soon after delivered federal Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws. Tucker has explicitly advocated that the United States “largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” Today, his acolytes hail the creation of a “P20W” system to groom students from “prenatal" (“P”) through graduate school (“20”) and into the workplace (W”).

Tucker’s close ally, Mike Cohen, was one of the cadre of education radicals called on to shape his plan and was name-checked in his letter to Hillary Clinton. Cohen served as a top education adviser to Bill Clinton and his education secretary, Richard Riley, and as a Don’t-Call-Me-A-Lobbyist lobbyist for the NGA before becoming president of Achieve Inc. in 2003.

And that brings us back to Mr. Chad Colby and Achieve Inc.’s second complaint. As I reported in my column, the incestuous relationships among these lobbying groups and their Common Core boondoggle partners are deep and wide. I noted that in addition to staffing the Common Core standards writing committee and leading the public relations campaign, Achieve Inc. “is the ‘project management partner’ of the Common Core-aligned, tax-subsidized PARCC testing conglomerate.”

Colby protested that “Achieve is no longer affiliated with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)” and that its “contract ended with them in December of last year.” Clean break? Hah. Achieve and PARCC are inextricably intertwined.

Don’t take my word for it. Take PARCC's. Though the contract with Achieve “ended” last year, a PARCC letter to Arizona education officials explains that no one’s really going anywhere: “The Achieve staff members that have conducted the work of PARCC over the last several years are transitioning to PARCC Inc. so that they can continue to maintain the leadership and programmatic expertise that will see the project through the end of the development period, as well as the sustainment of the assessment moving beyond the grant. Many of them have been involved in work surrounding student assessment and academic standards for 15 or more years ...”

Moreover, PARCC makes crystal clear that “the Achieve staff members that will make up PARCC Inc. ... have been intimately involved in the development of each of PARCC’s procurements, subsequent contracts and contract management.”

Despite spending tens of millions of dollars on advocacy along with millions more in federal and state taxpayer grants and subsidies, the Beltway educrats’ propaganda machine is crumbling. Tens of thousands of parents and students are now boycotting the racket’s PARCC/Achieve field tests. States are withdrawing from standards, technology and data-collection plans in droves.

Looks like it's time to ask the Gates Foundation to pour more money down the Common Core/Fed Ed Not Lobbying vortex, Mr. Colby. Class dismissed

Michelle Malkin is author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @michellemalkin, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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