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Queenie Bea

Maybe it goes back to when no one believed his UFO sighting during Kindergarten. Or possibly the time a remote-control car ran over his foot when he was ten. Whatever its deep-seated source, Senator Rand Paul has a thing against drones. Recall his tiresome outburst the other week about CIA drones and U.S. citizens. Yet ‘twas nothing compared with his recent fulminations over Arne Duncan’s Common Core classroom-drones program, officially the “Race to Observe Archaic and Simple-minded Teaching” (ROAST) program. Not only is Senator Paul revealing himself to be a one-trick pony, he doesn’t even seem to grasp the game-changing potential of this new technology for the revitalization of primary-secondary education.

Let’s set the record straight. These drones are not (heavily) armed, nor will they clog up U.S. airspace or bandwidth. (The Senator’s satellite re-runs of “Howdy Doody!” will continue to stream just fine.) These “child-centered” drones simply float around classrooms, observing and recording teachers’ instructional practices. It’s not really all that different from the Gates Foundation’s MET program—and we don’t recall Paul filibustering that.

As for privacy, fret not: The drone pilots at 400 Maryland Avenue SW are sworn to secrecy. Their mission, after all, isn’t to spy on little Jamal and Emma, only to check on their teacher—to make sure she’s putting all of the Common Core’s instructional shifts into practice. What’s more, unlike innumerable earlier ED initiatives, this one is working! Since the drones were launched in January, not a single eighth-grade English teacher has asked her students to write about their feelings. Not one! Nada.

The real shame is that news of the successful ROAST program leaked, thanks to Secretary “Loose Lips Sink Ships” Duncan. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If the Administration wants to help, it needs to keep its trap shut about all things Common Core. After all, it’s a state-led initiative!

Arne's Drones

RELATED ARTICLE: Candice B. Fureal, “Taking helicopter policy-making to new heights,” Keeping Mum Gazette, March 25, 2013.

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