Common Core is "a broad curriculum standard" proposed by the Obama administration, totally optional, with states eligible for federal money if they adopt it. Just as importantly, as Tim Murphy wrote a few weeks back, it's the focus of a worried conspiracy theory from Glenn Beck, who retains a surprising amount of media and movement clout from his Dallas studio.
According to anti-Common Core activists, the government won't only collect student data from test scores and paperwork—they'll also use actual lab experiments. Beck cited a February draft report released by the Department of Education on the future of learning technology. Among other things, the report highlighted studies that had used tools such as a "wireless skin conductance sensor," "functional magnetic resonance imaging," and a "posture analysis seat" to measure how students learn. As Beck put it, "This is like some really spooky, sci-fi, Gattaca kind of thing." But the Department of Education draft report didn't actually recommend that these tools be incorporated into the classroom.
This overlaps with a more mainstream Republican worry about CCSS--that national standards, in whatever form, will sap the sovereignty of states. And it didn't get a lot of attention, but at last weekend's RNC meetings, the committee approved a resolution condemning Common Core.
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is-- an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and be it finally
RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.
Who could disagree with some healthy skepticism about yet another federal government standard? Nobody, I hope. But clearly the more wild fears about Common Core's coming Gattaca-ization of schools helped light a fire under the party.