Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Department of Education — already ensnared by allegations of insider trading — appear to be maneuvering for greater federal influence over state education boards. The vehicle: a supposedly state-led effort titled “Common Core Curriculum.” Says Gretchen Logue, co-editor of missourieducationwatchdog.com:
Arne Duncan ran the Race to the Top competition, but only a few states got money from that. … They had all this money left over and they told the states if they wanted it they had to sign on to Common Core standards. Most states signed on.
That money became “Title I” funding, which many states used over the last two years to avoid major cuts to education. That money is now drying up. Continues Logue:
The states were told if they did not sign on they were in danger of losing Title I funding. … They had to have the money to satisfy the federal mandates; if they didn’t get the money they couldn’t satisfy them.
CCC itself is only a vehicle to put in place a database of student data, which Logue says would be shared across several federal departments including Education, Commerce, and Labor. Parts of this database already exist and are used by local school districts to send data to their state boards of education, which compile the data and pass it on to the federal government. Says Logue:
It was a way for school districts to get information to the states and the states would then compile it and send it on to the federal government. … It was fairly innocuous.
What the states send to the government now is fairly benign. It mostly consists of test scores, basic demographic information, and district sizes.
But Logue says the feds are now trying to create something entirely different:
The Common Core standards were the vehicle to get the longitudinal database. … They want to get all these systems where they interconnect. … The data sets already exist and are coded.
Indeed PJM has seen the data sets — and they might be accurately described as a brave new world. While not all of the information in these sets is mandatory at this time, the level of detail being asked for is unsettling.
The sets include such things as hair color, eye color, gestational age at birth (whether a child was premature or not), blood type, blood test results, birth marks, and even bus stop arrival time.