Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, considering a presidential run, strongly attacked critics of the Common Core educational program so wildly unpopular among conservative activists.
“In my state of Ohio, we want higher standards for our children, and those standards are set and the curriculum is set by local school board,” Kasich said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “[W]e have a problem with the education standards, and our children’s ability to compete in the world. … I don’t know how anybody can disagree with this, unless you’re running for something.”
On Saturday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, backed away from the Common Core standards he once supported: “Folks, what Common Core may have originally been was a governor-controlled states initiative to keep the fickle federal fingers of fate off of education. It has morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support.”
The controversial effort to standardize education across the 50 states has fallen so far out of favor among conservatives that it’s quickly becoming a litmus test for Republicans hoping to one day move up the political ladder.
In recent months, Republican governors in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana and Louisiana have all taken steps to distance themselves from the Common Core, either by working with their state legislatures or by taking unilateral action.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a likely presidential contender, is another to turn against Common Core after having initially invited the program into his state in 2010. Unlike in Oklahoma and South Carolina, Jindal did not have a state legislature that took the lead on ousting Common Core. So he acted by executive order.
Jindal announced June 18 that he had contacted Common Core’s copyright owners – the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers – to tell them that he was terminating the contract tying his state to Common Core. He then notified the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, that the state is dropping the test meant to measure compliance with Common Core.
Conservatives say Common Core is an effort to standardize education across the globe through intensive data collection and frequent high-stakes testing. So the needs of the student no longer matter as much as the needs of the global economic system, as determined by central planners sitting in bureaucratic agencies, and this represents a fundamental transformation that has been under way at least since the 1990s.
The program was funded largely by the Bill Gates Foundation and backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, without much input from parents, say critics.
Privacy activists also make the case that Common Core amounts to one big data-mining scheme. They say it’s part of the federal government’s plan to track the development of every child “womb to workforce.”
All 50 states have been mandated by the U.S. Department of Education to establish inter-connected “longitudinal databases” accumulating information on every student from pre-kindergarten through college.
Two groups, Pennsylvania Against Common Core and Pennsylvanians Restoring Education, are asking Gov. Tom Corbett to place a moratorium on data collection in the Pennsylvania Information Management System or PIMS. The system gathers information on students in all 500 school districts across the state, and some schools have started collecting behavioral data that goes beyond testing for academic knowledge, according to the two organizations.
The two groups are also asking the state attorney general’s office to launch an investigation into possible violations of student privacy laws.
“We are asking the governor to rescind all contracts and written agreements that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has with any commonwealth entity and any outside contractor who can access personally identifiable information on our children in violation of federal law, state policy, and Chapter 4 (state code) regulations,” reads a statement issued by Pennsylvania Restoring Education and Pennsylvania Against Common Core.
While Pennsylvania has become ground zero in the backlash against what is seen as an increasingly invasive student tracking system, all 50 states are in the process of expanding and digitizing their student records under the direction of the U.S. Department of Education. The goal is to have all state systems plugged into a centralized database storing sensitive student information.
The expanded data collection has been enabled by federal stimulus grants issued as far back as 2010. Growth in the student data-mining industry has also been buoyed by President Obama’s 2011 executive order weakening the rules against releasing student data, which is regulated by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Obama’s proposed rule change showed up in the Federal Register in April 2011 and took effect in January 2012, setting the stage for the development of a nationwide data-collection system capable of tracking individual students throughout their school and college careers.
The administration sold the policy as an advancement in “personal learning.” But Obama’s executive order allowed more than just personal learning. At the stroke of a pen, it opened access to highly sensitive student data to third-party contractors, as reported by WND in May.