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Last week, conservative talk show host and media mogul Glenn Beck decided to let his listeners in on what he dubbed “the biggest story in American history.” It’s called System X. “If you don’t stop it,” he warned, “American history is over as you know it.”
As Beck explained it, a little-known Department of Education program, supported by rich philanthropists, business interests, and the United Nations, was turning public schools into the world’s next great data-mining frontier. Using carrots offered up in the 2009 stimulus bill, the federal government and its contractors could compile hundreds of points of data on your kids and use it for who knows what. The result: “System X: a government run by a single party in control of labor, media, education, and banking; joined by big business to further their mutual collective goals.”
The gateway to this dystopian future, which Beck predicted would lead to some portions of the United States embracing Nazism, was President Barack Obama’s controversial push for a new national curriculum known as Common Core. The conspirators are far-ranging. Rupert Murdoch is in on it. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Jeb Bush.
Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever
Beck’s not the only person fighting Common Core. Lawmakers in 18 states have considered legislation to block the implementation of the curriculum standards. Five—Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia—have successfully rejected or partially rejected Common Core. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell reiterated his opposition to Common Core in late March, just one week after Texas Gov. Rick Perry went on Beck’s program to denounce it.
On the most basic level, the fight over Common Core is same fight parents and policymakers have been waging over public education for the last century, centering on two basic questions: What is the appropriate level of federal involvement in local schooling? And if we did settle on an umbrella curriculum, what should it actually look like? Education reformer Diane Ravitch, for one, opposes Common Core on the grounds that, while there should be a set of national education tenets, she believes “such standards should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government.”
The Tea Party’s Next Bogeyman: Obama’s Common Core Conspiracy