Common Core was publicized as a state-led, voluntary initiative, but it was actually an offer states couldn't refuse if they wanted their share of billions of federal education dollars. There’s also growing evidence that the national standards are more Gates led than states led.

According to a recent article by the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss, the following were among the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 15 biggest education grants in 2014:

New Venture Fund, $10,300,300

Purpose: to support the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards and related assessments through comprehensive and targeted communications and advocacy in key states and the District of Columbia.

Other grantees received grants for various activities related to Common Core college readiness, including:

  • Council of Chief State School Officers, $6,148,749
  • WestEd, $3,457,786

As The Blaze’s Fred Lucas explains:

The Common Core State Standards had a tumultuous year across many states in 2014, but Microsoft founder Bill Gates – among the biggest proponents of the standards – was undeterred in his support. …

Gates has been credited by some and blamed by others for the spread of Common Core, which was initially adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia. Since then, several states have repealed Common Core altogether, while others are making changes to the testing or are reviewing the standards.

Though Common Core is not a federal program, much of the controversy erupted after the U.S. Department of Education made “Race to the Top” grants in part contingent on adopting the standards.