CO School Board Seemingly Bought & Sold–Did Gates Buy Your School Board, Too?

January 20, 2014 at 5:00 am / by

About Macey France

Oregon PolitiChick Macey France is co-founder of the Stop Common Core in Oregon and is working with parents across the state to educate and help them to learn how to advocate for their children's education.… More
Money in hand

Recently I was pointed in the direction of where one might look if they wanted to find details about state school boards and how they might have come to the decision to adopt Common Core.  Let me tell you that there is a plethora of concerned people who handed me (and you, by extension) the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Hopefully, this information will spur you to look deeper into the decisions and motivations your state educational leaders have made regarding their support and praises of the Common Core.

This article will focus on Colorado, specifically, but it’s very important to remember that every state that has implemented the Common Core has a paper trail that probably resembles Colorado’s. In fact, while working on getting proper documentation to write this piece I stumbled on an article about Alaska and how the BOE in Alaska had motivation to accept the CC, too.  Financial motivation.

First, let me introduce you to Dr. Sandra Smyser, 2012 superintendent of the year in Colorado’s Eagle County School District.  Indeed, Ms. Smyser has an illustrious resume. Let’s take a peek, shall we?

Along with being named 2012 Superintendent of the Year, Smyser is also named as Board Member on page 7 of the Colorado Legacy Foundation’s 2012 tax return. Another seemingly prestigious position, indeed—but to understand the prestige behind the title of Board Member for the Colorado Legacy Foundation, we will have to delve into that foundation, itself, and see what it’s about.

From their website:

The Colorado Legacy Foundation believes that increased student achievement for all Colorado students requires effective leaders in every school, effective educators in every classroom, and healthy and engaging environments that ignite a passion for learning in every student.”

The Legacy Foundation also aims to create effective teachers and develop “best practice” kits. Those are just 2 things this Foundation supports but I would be remiss not to also tell you that the Foundation is very heavily involved in seeing the implementation of the Common Core Standards. They’re involved in “implementation capacity” and organization of implementation. One of their goals is to see a Legacy member on every school board in Colorado.

They even have their own page on the Colorado Department of Education website.

If I have taught you nothing in this Common Core journey it is to follow the money. So let’s follow that Legacy Foundation money and see where it leads.

Since we know the Gates Foundation and the Colorado Legacy Foundation, or CLF, are both very largely involved in the Common Core, we’ll start with a Google search of the Colorado Legacy Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  I’ll even save you the trouble of clicking that link:

Colorado Legacy Foundation

Date: June 2011 

Purpose: to provide organizational support to the Colorado Legacy Foundation related to implementation of the Common Core State Standards & teacher development and evaluation systems
Amount: $9,707,210
Term: 35
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Denver, Colorado
Grantee Website: 

In case you don’t realize what you’re seeing, I will clarify.

The Gates Foundation has given almost $10 million dollars to the Colorado Legacy Foundation to implement the Common Core. In total, Gates has provided more than $11 million to The Legacy Foundation.

Dr. Sandra Smyser, as I mentioned above, is on the CLF’s board of trustees and was the 2012 Superintendent of the Year for her position in the Eagle County School District.

I realize this may seem like a rabbit trail, but we must beg the question, “What happened to the money the CLF received to promote Common Core? Where did it go?”

Let’s check Dr. Smyser’s district for which she was named Superintended of the Year 2012 to see if any of that grant money found it’s way there:



That’s right. Dr. Smyser, Superintendent of Eagle County SD, board member on the Colorado Legacy Foundation, which is funded by Gates, received $565,000 dollars for her school district in 2012.

Is it just happenstance that Dr. Smyser, who helps direct funding from the CLF to districts in Colorado, happened to award her own district with a half million dollars? Could be. I’m sure she was thrilled to be mentioned in Bill Gates’s Annual letter!

Possibly. But when looking at the amount in donations from the CLF to other school districts in Colorado, you see that the districts that received the most money are represented by Colorado State School Board members—and they also have ties to Gates’ money.

How does this implementation and organizational support mentioned in the grant above look? It looks like The Colorado Integration Project 13 school districts in Colorado, through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were to integrate, in 2013, key educational reforms under Senate Bill 191 into their schools before it rolls out statewide next year. SB 191 is a bill introduced by Michael Joshnston and also ties Colorado teacher’s evaluations to PARCC, one of the two Common Core assessment consortia. These 13 districts will be called “learning laboratories,” which will demonstrate “best practices” for other districts throughout the state. If that isn’t enough, Johnston is also on this School Finance Partnership Steering Committee with the Legacy Foundation. Read his interesting history here. Governor Hickenlooper signed SB191 into law in February of 2012.

As mentioned above, I had help putting this together. This article is only the culmination of many peoples’ work and my putting it all in order.

This document shows all of the committees that Colorado State School Board members are part of. It’s interesting to note that all of the state school board members that are pro Common Core are also getting paid by Gates. Coincidence? Conflict of interest?

If you didn’t open that document linked above, following is the information that is important to know. These are the committees that the members of the Colorado State Board of Education sit on.

Current Service  

Elaine Gantz Berman:  Colorado Legacy Foundation Bd. of Directors, September 2008 to present; SBE Legislative Liaison, 2008 to present; NASBE Standing Committee: Governmental Affairs Committee, January 2010 to present; Co-Chair of NASBE Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant Fund, 2010 to present; The Denver Compact, January 2012 to present.

Angelika Schroeder:  CASB Liaison; May 2009 to present; Southwest Comprehensive Center’s Measuring Educator Effectiveness; October 2010 to present; SLDS Executive Steering Committee, June 2011 to present; NASBE Study Group: Role of Technology in Schools and Communities, January 2012 to present; Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC) Board, 2011 to present.

Marcia Neal:  CLASS, February 2009 to present; Board of Governors for the Children’s Land Alliance Support School, July 2012 to present; SBE Legislative Liaison, 2012 to present.

*Debora Scheffel : on CSEAC (Colorado Special Education Advisory Board), February 2011 to present; SBE Legislative Liaison, February 2011 to January 2012; Read to Achieve Advisory Board, February 2011 (Not on the board at the time of the CLF [Gate’s] grant in 2010.)

*Paul Lundeen: Alternative School Finance Models Advisory Committee, February 2011 to present; Licensing Educators for Academic Development Compact Working Group, August 2013 to present.

(*Author’s note: Ms. Scheffel and Mr. Lundeen were not members of the board in 2010.)

Jane Goff:  Gifted Education State Advisory Committee Liaison, March 2008-present; Colorado School Counselors Association Advisory Liaison, November 2010 to present; Colorado Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, August 2009 to present; Milken Family Foundation Educator Award Nomination Committee, August 2009 to present; National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), Board of Directors, 2010-present 1. President-elect, 2013 2. President, 2014; Education Leadership Council, August 2011-present (Governor Appointment); Remedial Education Policy Review Advisory Board, August 2012 to present.

Former Service  

Elaine Gantz Berman: Governor’s P-20 Council Transformations Sub-Committee, January 2008- December 2009; Alternative School Finance Models Advisory Committee, August 2010 to present Governor’s P-20 Council Transformations Sub-committee, January 2008- December 2009; Expanded Learning Opportunities Commission, September 2010 to September 2011; Hickenlooper-Garcia Transition Committee for Education, November 2010.

Angelika Schroeder:  NASBE Study Group: Preparation, Evaluation, Continuation and Compensation: A State Policy Agenda to Enhance the Teaching Profession, January to October 2010; NASBE Study Group: Developing the 21st Century Educator, January 2010 to October 2011; Teacher and Leader Evaluation Multi-State Networks, July 2010 to January 2012; Quality Teacher Commission, February 2009 to 2012.

Jane Goff:  Read to Achieve Board, March 2009 to January 2011; Governor’s P-20 Council Preparations and Transitions Sub-committee,  March 2008-December 2009; Hickenlooper-Garcia Transition Committee for Education, November 2010; NASBE Board of Directors, Western Region Director, 2010-2012.

Now pay attention to these notes. I don’t expect you to have read everything I just shared, but if nothing else, look at the names and see how they’re tied to Gates money as outlined below.

We’ll start with Colorado’s Commissioner of Education, Commissioner Hammond. Commissioner Hammond and his assistant Nina Lopez are on Legacy Foundation Board Nina Lopez was paid $126,000 by Legacy last year.  

Goff is NASBE -funded by Gates.

Berman is Legacy Foundation, which received $11.45 million to promote Common Core. She is also on 2 NASBE boards, and as you remember, NASBE is also funded by Gates.

Shroeder is the SLDS (statewide longitudinal database system) executive and also PEBC. (Interesting side note: their featured speaker is Marc Tucker this month–AKA “Dear Hillary Letter”.  In case you’re not familiar, click here. If you have time, come back to this link. VERY interesting the ideas this man has. He pushed the 90’s version of Common Core.) Southwest Comprehensive Center at WestEd; WestEd is paid for by Gates and the NASBE technology in schools committee.

Neal has been vice chair of CLASS since 2012. Although there isn’t any obvious link to her, CLASS gets $5.4 Billion from US Department of Education – Arne Duncan.

If I’m doing the math right, that’s 4/6 or 2/3 of the Colorado BOE plus the Commissioner of Education receiving funds from the Colorado Legacy Foundation/Gates.

And then we have the repeated mention of Governor Hickenlooper and Lieutenant Governor Garcia’s Transition Committee for Education in the description of Colorado’s state board members’ other committee interests.  Governor Hickenlooper has done nothing to stop or help in pausing Common Core in Colorado. In looking at Lt. Governor Garcia’s website we can see he is very heavily involved in education in Colorado and The Legacy Foundation.

This article shows the love affair between Gates and Hickenlooper and Garcia. Throw in The Legacy Foundation being so appreciative of the Hickenlooper/Garcia plan to reform education in Colorado and you will find me wondering what makes the Governor and his Lieutenant so eager to be a part of this reform.

Does Governor Hickenlooper take his cues on education from Garcia? Where does Garcia get his motivation for supporting The Legacy Foundation and Common Core so wholeheartedly? Does he also receive funding in some way from TLF or Gates?

Satellite (2)It begs the question, isn’t there a conflict of interest here? Or maybe a dozen or more conflicts of interest?!

In investigating the Colorado Legal Ethics pertaining to this seeming conflict of interest, here are some key points that need to be made and that stand out.

Superintendents of schools are government employees. State board of education members are government officials.

Here are some particularly helpful points that are highlighted in the Legal Ethics document about Conflict of Interest:

1.11:110      Federal Conflict of Interest Statutes and Regulations

“…branch or any independent agency from participating personally and substantially as a government employee in any particular matter in which he, his family, partner or an organization with which he is affiliated has a financial interest.”

1.11:120      Colorado Conflict of Interest Statutes and Regulations

“The statute also prohibits the acceptance of gifts that would tend to improperly influence a reasonable person in his position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of his public duties or which are known to be given for the primary purpose of rewarding official action taken.”

“performing an official act directly and substantially benefiting economically a business or undertaking in which he has a substantial financial interest or for which he is engaged as counsel or agent.”

Now I know why Colorado State Board of Education adopted the Common Core despite the six hundred emails sent to the Colorado Department of Education in July of 2010 when the Standards were being voted on. Only a dozen or so of those emails were FOR the adoption of the Common Core. All else were against.

You can see the very real connections these elected government officials have with the Gates Foundation, which is a big player and is responsible for a lot of funding tied to the Common Core and its other nefarious initiatives.

I suggest you go on a treasure hunt in your state and see what you dig up.

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Macey France

Oregon PolitiChick Macey France is co-founder of the Stop Common Core in Oregon and is working with parents across the state to educate and help them to learn how to advocate for their children's education. Macey has spoken at many Common Core informational meetings across the state of Oregon. Macey’s articles on Common Core have been picked up by various news outlets and she has been a guest on many radio shows across the nation. Macey’s article about The Bluest Eye was featured on a panel on Al Jazeera America and was nominated for a CPAC Blogger Award for Best Sunlight Post of 2013. Macey is a strong conservative with libertarian leanings, making her more of a "conservatarian." Preserving the constitutional and moral values of that this great nation was founded on for her children is her priority. She is a stay at home mom of two boys who are now in elementary school. As a mom who has always been interested in politics, religion and all of the taboo subjects, she has always had a lot to say about the state of the nation. When she realized the Common Core Standards were not only bad news for children but a government coup over education, she decided to fight back and is now considered one of the nation's leading experts on all-things-Common Core. When she's not having uncomfortable arguments with strangers on Facebook she can be found spending time with her husband of 15 years and two sons. Find Macey France on Facebook and Twitter: @MaceyFrancePC

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  1. RLJR1 says:


  2. EL says:

    Unless people start taking interest in this country, it is lost.

  3. dad666 says:

    These are Communist tactics and have been for years and we know what they got for
    Russia. These people all have the same agenda and that is to take over this country by destroying the middle class economically and with it our ability to be self governing. 47 % of our polulation depends on Gubment handouts and that is growing. And now thay want to dumb down our children. REVOLT IS COMING AND SOON

  4. Wiseoldlady says:

    Any way we can BY pass Gates by creating our own computer programable data and kick that SOB to the curb. We need young technicians to start finding ways….put the word out.
    It is because we have needed product and service from such EVIL SOBs that literally do NOT care about anyone but themselves. So who can create a computer that has NOTHING TO DO WITH GATES.



    As for those in charge of schools….they are almost always the brain washed idiots in society.

    I recall when our school wanted to teach Greek mythology to my daughter’s 6th grade class…I went to the teacher and the principle and demanded she NOT be involved with paganism. Does not belong in young minds. I flat told them either you don’t teach that crap…or I will keep my daughter out of school while it is being exposed. My daughter did not participate….but I was the ONLY caring parent. You

  5. Barbara Dawn says:

    Sadly, a majority of Americans take more interest in football scores and their stats than the grades their kids are getting in school (or what they are being “brainwashed to think” in school). Stop being so self-absorbed America…. WAKE UP! We are losing our country to Communist thinking (gun control) and illegals (through voter fraud) while our focus is on the game. I guess as long as they keep having football games, it won’t matter if America goes SOCIALIST. Ya think???????

  6. swed says:

    Microsoft has been a joke to most of us techies for decades.
    Dump Microsoft, Go LINUX, UBUNTU or LINUX Mint Maya are superb.
    Faster, better, less buggy (No MS a bug is NOT a feature), and with Open Office or LibreOffice you get a better word/excel//math, graphics editor suite for a reasonable Donation. Microsoft is expensive, fragile, buggy and obsolete. For tablets Android is more secure. And yes you can dumb files down to MS format for those in the stone age.

    • Gail says:

      Would love to use a different system. And stand up to that commie Gates.
      But how do I transform my computer to one of these other systems.

  7. story says:

    Bill Gates is a fascist and a bully. Bozos like Gates and powerful Hollywood types seem to think that their wealth makes them think that they know more than anyone else, and that that same wealth entitles them to tell the rest of us how to live. Think George Soros. He is using his wealth to “tame” the west and promote a global existence (economy, government, education, etc). Bill Gates is no better. I have zero respect for him or anyone who chirps about tolerance and respect yet shows no respect or tolerance for anyone with different views. The more money we pour into a broken education system, the more broken our education systems becomes. We as a country were more competitive educationally before the push to flood the system with money. Money is not the answer – at least not without accountability. Mr and Mrs Gates could do a lot of good with all the money they’ve earned from our CAPITALISTIC economy. That same economy they would destroy. The pinnacle of hypocrisy. Why does power and control have to be the result of his charity?

  8. finishstrongdoc says:

    Progressive fascists are always deflecting from their activities by claiming conservatives never care about the born, only the preborn. If children are lucky enough to be allowed to be born, progressives, who started the ball rolling with fear-mongering about the “Population Bomb” in the first place, will gladly hold everyone’s children for ransom by hijacking school boards and turning children into hostages.

    It takes money to run a gang of pirates, but once the ransom money starts coming in, the payouts will be enormous. Common Core, like ObamaCare, are really ransom notes.

  9. BarrackHussein says:

    So the takeaway is that coloradans like to smoke dope and have no interest in their children?
    This is a good argument for home schooling.

  10. marineh2ominer says:

    Apparently Gates is every bit as EVIL as George Soros . Parents need to forget PTA meetings except for intelligence gathering and just have concerned parents meetings .

  11. giant33 says:

    Great job Macey France, you put a lot of effort and time into this. Is it the Gates foundation along with the legacy foundation and the Dept. of Ed and or Bill and Melinda Gates who are the bad guys in this disaster. Maybe its Melinda Gates with to much time and money on her hands trying to do good. Like the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intensions. You know that money is disappearing at every level. What is wrong with the Gates family? There education was fine, why are they screwing with education? If they want to do good they should work on getting rid of the unions in teaching.

  12. tinlizzieowner says:

    “The American people will never knowingly adopt
    socialism. But, under the name of “liberalism,” they will adopt every
    fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a
    socialist nation, without knowing how it happened”.
    “I no longer need to
    run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party.The Democratic
    Party has adopted our platform.”

    Norman Thomas. 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.
    (circa, late 1940′s)

  13. Breezeyguy says:

    Thanks for your thorough research Macey. Bill and Melinda are scarey people indeed. Did you know Melinda Gates is a rabid abortionist and forced sterilization advocate? Of course, she uses euphemisms in public.

  14. lorlan4 says:

    Sadly, this coubtry is going through a change (Obama’s change) and will not stop until the people have the will to rise up again. This is going to be many years away and will be similar to what our forefathers did in the Revolutionary War, but in the interim, we will be subjects of another country. That will be soon. I for one, am glad that I am 75 years old and will not have to go through that struggle, (did my time, retired after 28 years in the military), but have a great compassion for my children and their children, who do not understand what is about to befall them. I think it is too late to wake up and because of political correctness, all is lost. However those who have benefited from political correctness will be the first and biggest losers.

  15. RonP says:

    Common Core is an instrument of brain-washing, not teaching, but by the government and other contributors dangling money in front of most of the school districts in the country they have accomplished their goal of getting their tripe into the classrooms. It would probably shock most parents if they spent a week in their child’s classroom as an observer.

    • Btty says:

      Common Core is giving politicians/government more control over your child. Home School people or you will wake up to your kids being used to turn you over to the government just like Hitler did to the youth. Socialism/Communism hard at work. Control of Education, Healthcare, Gun control and keep people on the government tit and soon they will be controlling food. They are already destroying good farmland. I live in CA and it’s sickening what they have done to farming in this state. Some of the richest farmland in the country. Do yourself and your kids a huge service and Home School. If more people did that you would see them trying to outlaw Home Schooling because when you Home School they can’t get control of your kids. By the way Home Schooled kids score higher on SAT’s than public school kids. All this fits in to their One World Order. Something to think about.

  16. MontieR says:

    Bought and paid for by one of the richest statists in America.

  17. AZWarrior says:

    You get what you voted for. All these idiots who say, “Oh, I won’t vote for THAT guy”, help the worst kin of a.s.s. hole (Liberal) get elected. (Like Obama- Romney would have been a HELLUVA lot better), jerks.

  18. simdixie says:

    I wrote to the Colorado BOE in favor of the Math CCS because they were ahead of the Colorado standards and only 30% of Colorado’s 10th graders test proficient or above on the state test. Too, with Colorado having 1-off standards from other, bigger states, we were stuck with homegrown textbooks with no evidence of effectiveness. I wanted us to have more choice and be able to use the same books as other, successful states.
    I’ve lived to regret the math CCS, though, because the Shell Math Design Collaborative is making the lessons constructivist. Too, some CDE geniuses decided to add 15% to the math CCS for Colorado standards. When I asked CDE why I was told that the state math subcommittee had already been working on new standards and they didn’t want their work to go to waste. Really? When they stopped the space shuttle do we think nothing was thrown out?

  19. Lori Hvizda Ward says:

    Ms. France: Your blog loses much credibility when you allow
    your commentors to abuse your posting policy.

  20. Deborah Cole says:

    I want to thank Macey France for the work she has done on this as on other aspects of Common Core. As a Coloradan, I want to make sure it is clear that not every one on the Colorado State Board of Education is either pro-Common Core or compromised by the Gates Foundation. You were careful to mention that Paul Lundeen and Debora Scheffel had joined the Board after 2010; and there is a third Board member, Pam Mazanec, who came on a year ago. All three of these members oppose Common Core and deserve our gratitude and support for that position, given the overwhelming pressure on the other side, as laid out in your article. Since people often go no further than a headline, I was concerned to clarify that 3/7 of our Board is solidly with us.

  21. Cindee says:

    Paul Lundeen has a laser-focus on what truly is best for Colorado students– even at the expense of NOT being in the pocket of those who sway politicians with money. I hope other elected officials understand that the public is alert and aware of those who do stand up for our children and make principle-based decisions!

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