By Chrissy Clark
Republican Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s secretary of education pick founded an organization that advocates for the collection of children’s data. It also raked in nearly $26 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to records from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reviewed by the Daily Caller.
Youngkin tapped Aimee Rogstad Guidera, president of Guidera Strategy, on Monday. Between 2005 and 2018, Guidera was the founder and chief executive of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), a national organization that advocates for the collection of data on American school children.
DQC encourages states to create unique identifiers for each students — such as a student ID number — to anonymously track student data on a state-wide level, according to the company’s 2006 10-step plan. The organization calls for states to use data, such as students’ grades, class schedules and more, to create reports used to influence state and federal policy.
States are already mandated to publish “report cards” that provide parents and the public with general information about state and district school performance and progress, per the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
DQC now calls for students’ data to be used to foster “equitable education outcomes,” according to their Data for Equity project page. The organization also promoted a federal data collection project that measures the nation’s progress “towards equity goals.” DQC also recommended that school leadership and state governing and advisory boards make staffing decisions that are representative of the racial or gender breakdown of a given community.
The push for “equity” via student data began after Guidera’s 2018 exit, according to a timeline review of DQC’s website.
Between 2014 and 2016, DQC’s legislative agendas were focused on protecting student privacy, according to the organization’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 legislative breakdown. Under Guidera’s leadership, the organization also promoted and passed legislation that provided parents the ability to opt their child out of data collection to third-part service providers.
In 2017 — while Guidera remained at the helm — DQC supported policy that helped school districts subvert student privacy rules, according to DQC’s year in review. The organization supported two amendments in Connecticut that would have subverted a public school district from implementing Public Act 16-18, which “adds a layer of requirements to ensure student privacy.”
DQC also supported a Maryland commission on restorative practices and ending the “school-to-prison pipeline” in 2017.
Parents in Loudoun County, Virginia, were concerned about issues of student privacy and data collection before Youngkin’s election, according to a Loudoun County concerned parent organization. “Second Step” programming — which is inspired by critical race theory — allegedly collects data from LCPS students, according to the district’s contract with the vendor reviewed by the Daily Caller. (RELATED: Loudoun County Forces Parents To Sign NDA-Style Form To View CRT-Inspired Curriculum)
Organizations pushing back against critical race theory-inspired training appear increasingly concerned that their children’s data is being collected by organizations, such as Second Step, that promote controversial ideologies.
DQC claims that it does more than just adhere to data privacy and security laws, it vows to “create a culture in which data is trusted and used ethically to support individuals.” The organization itself does not collect data.
DQC received a bulk of its funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation between the educational organization’s founding to present day. Between 2005 and 2021, the Gates Foundation shelled out $25,886,314 in committed funds to DQC, according to the Foundation’s website.
The first round of funding — $750,000 — was issued to the National Center for Education Achievement, not directly to DQC. However, the grantee website listed under the “National Center for Education Achievement” links to DQC’s website. The Gates Foundation committed $18,526,314 during Guidera’s leadership.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds a slew of progressive education programs, including the “Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction” book, which tells educators that asking students to show their work or find the right answer in math class is racist.
Other “funders” to DQC include Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, AT&T, ExxonMobil, the Ford Foundation and Target Corporation, among others.
The Youngkin team highlighted Guidera’s accomplishments in GOP priorities, most notably in “restoring expectations of excellence,” increasing charter schools and implementing curriculum that “removes politics from the classroom.” Guidera’s DQC supported legislation aimed at increasing funding for charter schools.
Today, I announced Aimee Rogstad Guidera as your next Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Aimee understands that Parents Matter & will go to work on Day One to restore excellence in our education system by putting your children first.https://t.co/ucJdojzt3W
— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) December 20, 2021
Youngkin spokesman Devin O’Malley told the Daily Caller that Guidera “believes in protecting students’ privacy and leveraging data to empower parents, increase transparency, and drive accountability in the education system.”
“As a member of Governor-elect Youngkin’s cabinet, Aimee understands that parents matter and that we must raise standards, restore excellence in education, oversee a record education budget, increase the number of innovation labs and charter schools, and stand for a curriculum that prepares Virginia’s children for a successful future,” O’Malley said