Common Core Problems Student Data & Privacy

Duncan’s Denial

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a speech at the American Society of News Editors Annual Convention

Secretary Duncan said,

“The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn. An op-ed in the New York Times called the Common Core “a radical curriculum.” It is neither radical nor a curriculum. … When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, it doesn’t, we’re not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.”

Let’s unpack this a bit and examine the evidence.

1.   Hard working parents and tax payers are not a “fringe group.”  Demonizing those critical of a policy is a tactic employed by those that want to distract from the facts.     “We the people” are called to hold our elected officials accountable.   That’s not “fringe” idea.  Just as you encouraged the reporters in this speech to challenge the critics of Common Core, we are also allowed to challenge the education policies of the administration.

2.  Is Common Core a “radical curriculum?”   Radical is subjective depending on your political perspective.  What is radical to one parent may be mainstream to another.  Local control of education is an American tradition.  Communities and families determine what will be taught to their children.

But  Common Core will eventually become a “common” curricula.   How do I know?  Obama said it was in his 2013 State of the Union Address,

“Four years ago, we started Race to the Top, a competition that convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards, for about 1 percent of what we spend on education each year.”

Standards AND curricula.   It is NOT “fringe groups” making this outlandish claim but the President of the United States.

Further,  lead architect of the Common Core David Coleman said,

“If you put something on an assessment in my view you are ethically obligated to take responsibility that kids will practice it 100 times.”

Despite Ducan’s denial, Common Core will include curricula to prepare students for the common assessments.

3.  Data collection is a part of the national “common” education reform funded by the Federal Government under President Obama.

Secretary Duncan said in 2009.    “I want to be able to track every child throughout their educational trajectory, so we know what they are doing.” He reiterated his vision again in a press release in 2010,

“Tracking student progress from birth through college helps teachers in the classroom, helps principals manage and improve their schools, and helps parents better understand the unique educational needs of their child,”

The Obama data collection initiative was confirmed by global education expert and Common Core proponent, Sir Michael Barber.  Barber served as a top education adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and is currently the  Chief Education Adviser to Pearson,   (see this video link at 1:47 mark)

“United Sates now,  joined by the so-called Race To the Top fund the big Federal program, the biggest federal program probably in history state has to agree that it will build a database that connects individuals, teachers to individual students, and their progress. We will see databases like this developing around the world’s for the next decade or so…it’s only with the data that we can do evidenced based policy making.”

Data must be collected to have “evidenced” based policy making.  Despite Duncan’s denial that he “won’t” do it,  data collection IS part of the education reform package adopted by the states when they chose Common Core and related assessments.

In his speech Duncan also feebly attempted to sound hopeful,

Now, I don’t think the Common Core is going to get derailed. But this misguided, misinformed opposition is making life more difficult in several states, where various forms of anti-Common Core legislation have been introduced. A lot of that legislation is based on false information.

So now we’re a “fringe group” that is making “life more difficult” for politicians.    Wow.

This is America where opposing opinions are allowed and freely expressed.   Challenging our nation’s lawmakers is the hallmark of a free society even if it makes their lives a bit more difficult.    Teachers and parents lives have been made more difficult because of the national “common” standards and testing.  The standards were adopted by the states with little debate  because the federal money promised through Race for the Top.     DC politicians and private interests are making life difficult for ordinary people who just want maintain control of education in Michigan.

Duncan continued, “It’s convenient for opponents to simply write it all off as federal over-reach—but these are separate and distinct issues—and they should be publicly debated openly and honestly with a common understanding about the facts.”

Secretary Duncan’s denial seeks to minimize federal influence now but if President Obama is taking credit for “convincing” states to adopt standards and curricula then it is Duncan who is on the “fringe” in his assessment of “federal over reach”  in Common Core.