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New Republican government in Virginia hires Secretary of Education who led Bill Gates-funded student data group

Aimee Rogstad Guidera is the founder of the Data Quality Campaign, a lobby group with a mixed record on student privacy.

As Republican Glenn Youngkin prepares to take office as Virginia’s next governor on Jan. 15, some have expressed concern that his choice of Secretary of Education may signal a weaker commitment to the concerns of conservative parents than the mood that propelled him to victory has worn.

Youngkin, the former CEO of private equity firm Carlyle Group, defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in early November, capitalizing on a wave of dissatisfaction with COVID restrictions and left-wing extremism in public schools that also prompted a House takeover led the GOP.

In December, Youngkin announced the election of Aimee Rogstad Guidera as Virginia Secretary of Education, calling her “a critical partner in restoring expectations of excellence, overseeing a record-high education budget, investing in teachers, facilities and special education,… introducing innovation labs and charter schools, and while advocating a curriculum that prepares Virginia children for a dynamic future and removes politics from the classroom.”

The Daily Caller reports that in 2005 Guidera founded the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), an organization campaigning for better anonymous collection of student data for use in shaping education policy, and was its CEO until 2018. Between 2008 and 2018, the DQC received more than $25.8 million from the far-left Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Caller notes that the group’s work from 2014 to 2016 focused on protecting student privacy, specifically enabling parents to opt-out of their children from third-party data collection. However, in 2017, under Guidera’s leadership, DQC also sponsored “two Connecticut amendments that would have barred a public school district from enacting a law” that “adds a number of requirements to ensure student privacy.”

Since 2018, DQC has also begun lobbying for so-called “equitable educational outcomes” (“equity” is a common catchphrase for a range of left-wing “social justice” policies), including considering race and gender in hiring decisions, although these Work only began after Guidera’s departure from the group.

Youngkin spokesman Devin O’Malley assured the caller that Guidera “believes in protecting student privacy and using data to empower parents, increase transparency and drive accountability in the education system.” But her pick is not the first step of the governor-elect, who calls conservative circles on the plan.

In November, Youngkin disappointed his supporters by announcing he would not seek to prevent communities from mandating COVID-19 vaccines or masks for state residents. Conservatives were also wary when he hired Joshua Marin-Mora, who has promoted LGBT causes and issues on social media, including the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, as his top assistant.

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