Understanding Glenn Beck's Common Core Conspiracy Theory

Despite the fact that we spend hours every day watching Glenn Beck's radio and television programs, we are often completely mystified by whatever "point" it is he is trying to make because ... well, the ravings of a paranoid conspiracy theorist are generally kind of hard to follow.

Case in point was last night's program where Beck warned that the government and corporations have teamed up to implement something he calls "System X' designed to turn the nation's schoolchildren into cogs in a corporate machine.

He spent a good deal of time talking about it on his radio program again today and, as best we can understand, Beck's theory is that the 2009 stimulus legislation contained $5 billion dollars designated to be given to states in support of public education, but carried a requirement that any state accepting the money must set up a "longitudinal data system." The data gathered by such a system, Beck insists, is being harvested by the federal government and stored in a massive facility in Utah and will be used by both the government and corporations to monitor every student from the time they enter school for the purpose of controlling their futures. From the moment a child enters school, his or her future will be determined and those with skills deemed valuable by the corporations will be guided into areas that serve the needs of the corporations while all the others "will be a cog in the machine forever."

Beck is particularly obsessed with page 44 of a document entitled "Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century" [PDF] put out by the Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology. In a section on "behavioral task performance," the report mentions various methods researchers have used for measuring how students respond to challenges.  Among the methods used have been some studies that employed various sensors and cameras, photos of which were included in the report:

Even though, on the very next page, the report says such devices "may not be practical for use in the classroom" and that the measurements they take are "dependent on the use of highly constrained tasks in digital learning environments, which may be difficult to translate into use in the classroom," Beck is convinced that "your kids are going to be poked and prodded like 1984" and will have wristbands and cameras attached to them so that they can be monitored at all times: 

So when you start hearing others on the Right and GOP members of Congress warning about the dangers posed by Common Core, this is what they are talking about.  And you can thank Glenn Beck.

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