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Glenn Youngkin Taps Ed Secretary Deeply Linked To The Critical Race Theory Education Swamp

Glenn Youngkin's education secretary Aimee Guidera
Image CreditExcel in Ed / YouTube

Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Youngkin’s education secretary pick, is deeply tied to the education swamp on almost every issue.

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Virginia Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin was elected to stop critical race theory in public schools, and he has promised to do so in office. Yet the woman he’s appointed for state education secretary, Aimee Rogstad Guidera, has numerous professional and financial ties to organizations that underwrite the spread of critical race theory, a racist philosophy that pits Americans of different bodily hues against each other and smears those born into paler skin.

“Because of the national spotlight that was on Virginia, we saw people put their hand up all over the country” for his education secretary spot, Youngkin said in a recent interview about Guidera.

Guidera was the founder and longtime chief executive of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC). She ran the organization from 2005 until May 2018, when she left to pursue private consulting. Founding DQC is the biggest and most visible education-related job on Guidera’s resume.

Yet DQC is deeply tied to the political swamp on almost every education issue possible, including the Common Core debacle and racist critical theory. These are not just associational ties, but also major financial ties.

Despite repeated inquiries, Youngkin communications staff declined to answer specific questions for this article and instead directed The Federalist to a quote published in a Daily Wire article three weeks ago about other potential conflicts of interest between Youngkin’s education secretary and his stated education policies.

The Data Quality Campaign’s Founders

Guidera’s Data Quality Campaign was started in 2005 by key boosters of major failures in public education, including technocratic and useless school “report cards,” rigged student testing, the low-quality and legally suspect Common Core curriculum effort, federal data surveillance of children and their families, and saturating schools with race, sex, and resentment.

According to Achieve, DQC’s founding organizations included Achieve Inc., the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governors Association (NGA), and The Education Trust, with major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation used the CCSSO and NGA to push the nation into Common Core with nearly no votes by elected officials.

These founding organizations and major funders for DQC are also not surprisingly knee-deep in pushing critical race theory. For example, CCSSO’s CEO last January wrote in a public letter, “As Americans, we are facing a global pandemic, racial injustices, and now an overt assault on our democracy and the peaceful transition of power.” That same email advertises the CCSSO’s “Anti-Racism Webinar Series” and “Digital Equity and Inclusion Toolkits.”

The CCSSO’s “Leading for Equity” report from 2017 claims, “Equity does not mean creating equal conditions for all students, but rather targeting resources based on individual students’ needs and circumstances, which includes providing differentiated funding and supports.” It also insists that lifelong data surveillance of students is crucial to efforts to establish “equity.”

White Teachers Are a Problem Because They’re White?

Critical race concepts and buzzwords permeate the documents of this founding partner of the data collection organization Glenn Youngkin’s education secretary founded and led for a decade. For just another example, the CCSSO highlighted as a “promising practice” in “equity” Vermont and Wisconsin’s implicit bias training for state education staffers. Implicit bias testing, and training based on its premises, have been scientifically debunked as unreliable at best and likely to make people racist at worst.

The CCSSO “equity” report also praised state efforts to redistribute additional resources to students based on their race, ethnicity, and poverty level. State education “chiefs and their teams must analyze data to determine the greatest gaps and equity challenges and determine how they will focus efforts and allocate limited resources to address those gaps and their root causes,” says the report.

The CCSSO also hosted a webinar that implied white teachers’ skin color is a problem. “Most educators and advocates have heard the numbers that stand out: over 80% of the nation’s teacher workforce is white while our public school population is over 50% students of color. When we hear these concrete numbers, it drives us to action and creates collective urgency to address this issue,” says the webinar description. How could a teacher possibly have the “wrong” skin color? How is skin color relevant to competence? Who are the real racists here?

The webinar title connects the campaign for data surveillance to critical race theory: “What’s in the Data? Using an Equity Lens to Collect Racial Workforce Data.”

Data Quality Campaign Itself Promotes Racially-Charged ‘Equity’ Goals

A 2018 “case study” from DQC itself explains how they aim to use data to “fundamentally transform” the purpose of public schooling to focus on something called socioemotional learning, or SEL. SEL is a classroom focus on non-academic behaviors, beliefs, and personalities. It’s designed to substitute for social and emotional skills that children normally learn at home from their families. It is also routinely used as an excuse to inject critical race ideology into schools.

For this DQC study, 10 public school districts collected, among other things, data about “nonacademic indicators,” including student surveys. Such student surveys frequently contain racist and sexually explicit leading questions of children as young as 10, sometimes without parent knowledge. DQC’s pilot project partnered with Panorama Education, a politically connected, high-dollar data-gathering outfit that is now well-known for injecting critical race theory into public schools through such surveys and teacher training.

In its 2018 case study, sent to me by a parent with Utahns Against Common Core, DQC openly advocates that governments use schools to collect this sort of “nonacademic” information from children and use it to shape their emotions, behavior, and personalities. Using “SEL competencies” to judge schools “meant that, for the first time, participating districts and schools would be accountable for both the academic and the nonacademic outcomes of their students,” says the DQC case study (emphasis added). Why would one hold a school responsible for children’s “nonacademic outcomes”?

The DQC report lists “social awareness” as one of the key socioemotional learning “competencies” their pilot program measured. What does it mean for a child to be “socially aware”? The report defines that as: “The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures; understand social and ethical norms for
behavior; and recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.”

The schools that participated in Data Quality Campaign’s pilot gave their nearly half a million students’ tests that assessed the children’s progress on “tak[ing] the perspective of and empathiz[ing] with others from diverse backgrounds.” What exactly did that mean?

We don’t know, but as Gabe Kaminsky reported at The Daily Wire, DQC has openly supported using the children’s data it’s been pushing governments to collect to divide Americans by skin color in schools. Kaminsky notes:

There is a page on DQC’s website dedicated to the idea of ‘Data for Equity.’ The organization seeks to ‘collect, disaggregate, and share data above and beyond reported mandates’ and ‘engage diverse and representative populations’ in order to ‘ensure that individuals have access to equitable opportunities that lead to success in education and beyond.’ … ‘It is not enough to collect education and workforce data—it must be used to inform decision-making that fosters equitable education outcomes…’

Kaminsky also notes that DQC’s board includes at least two open supporters of institutional racism: “Erika McConduit, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Centene Corporation, and Cassandra Herring. Herring is president and CEO of the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED). The nonprofit trains teachers and schools “with the longer-range goals of both diversifying the teaching profession and intentionally addressing critical issues of educational equity for all students.”

The Rabbit Hole Goes On

DQC also has serious financial and organizational connections to The Education Trust, a very visibly far-left education activist organization. Not only was Education Trust one of DQC’s founding organizations, DQC’s 2017 public tax documents show the organizations were also financially connected during Guidera’s tenure.

The 2017 document asks whether DQC is “related to any tax-exempt or taxable entity?” DQC’s answer was yes, and the organization went on to list that related entity as “The Ed Trust.” The form also states that DQC leased undisclosed assets from The Education Trust that year.

A look at Ed Trust’s website will show it’s saturated with support for institutional racism against people of paler skin. The description for the outfit’s most recent podcast, for example, bewails a “concerted propaganda effort that contends that schools have been taken over by a cabal of teachers intent on humiliating and shaming White children as part of a project to foster division throughout the country. This propaganda has fueled legislation in 21 states and counting.”

Two researchers in 2019 used Ed Trust as one of their top examples of just how institutionally leftist are nearly all “education reform” outfits, noting, “education-advocacy groups such as the Education Trust… have gone out of their way in recent years to demonstrate their progressive bona fides (and disagreement with Republicans) on issues such as immigration, school discipline, transgender access, and school vouchers.”

The researchers also found that the employees of people who worked for education organizations funded by the Gates Foundation gave 99 percent of their campaign contributions to Democrats, indicating that education nonprofit organizations are farther left than Hollywood or labor unions: “Even the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teacher union, gives a larger slice of its campaign contributions to Republicans than do the employees of Gates education grantees.”

DQC’s Top Funder Also Promotes Racist Curricula

Other outlets have reported on some of the many other connections between Guidera’s biggest resume item and pushers of racial extremism in public schools. As The Daily Caller reported on Dec. 21, “DQC received a bulk of its funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation between the educational organization’s founding to present day.”

Gates is the largest foundation in the world. It spends copiously on critical race theory-linked projects. In October it sent $400,000 to the “National Equity Project” “To test a model of professional development focused on social emotional learning and affirming student racial identity to improve learning outcomes of Black, Latino, and low-income students.”

The same month, Gates sent $500,000 to “pilot the Facing History School Model, a bold new program for promoting whole-school adoption of equitable teaching practices by embedding social emotional learning, equity and civics into every aspect of school culture and curriculum.” These are just a few of the top hits among 103 grants in Gates’s public database from a search on “equity” in its K-12 education program.

According to Gates Foundation records, the foundation gave DQC nearly $21 million during Guidera’s tenure there. That appears to include a founding grant in 2005 through Guidera’s previous employer, the ACT’s National Center for Education Achievement, as the Caller’s Chrissy Clark noted.

According to the most recent available public tax records, in 2017, the last full year Guidera worked for DQC, the organization paid her $332,944. In 2018, DQC paid Guidera $367,601, which included a $159,120 severance, according to public tax records.

Public records from Open Secrets show that Guidera has over the years donated $8,970 in total to various local and national Republican campaigns, mostly in Minnesota, where the records indicate she and her husband lived until at least 2020. Federal Election Commission data shows her husband, William Guidera, a CEO at Netflix, has donated more than $100,000 to Republicans over the years.

The data also suggests the Guideras last lived in Virginia in the early 2000s — the most recent donation from either one in these databases from a Virginia location was in 2003, when William Guidera worked at Microsoft. Starting in 2007, the Guideras’ residence is listed in these election databases as in Minnesota.