Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Creates New 'Data Czar' to Manage Student and Workforce Data

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Creates New 'Data Czar' to Manage Student and Workforce Data

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), considered to be a 2016 presidential hopeful, is headed to New Hampshire this month to do some campaigning. Though fond of presenting himself as a conservative, Pence’s “rebrand” of the Common Core standards, his decision to accept Medicaid expansion, and, more recently, his creation of a new state office that will manage an expanded network of student and workforce data, may all place him, instead, in the category of big government progressive.

As Indiana Chalkbeat states, “Indiana is quietly taking steps to position itself for a future where data drives much of what is learned in school.”

Pence’s latest endeavor is the new Department of Workforce Development, with a director nicknamed the state’s “data czar.” The office will manage an expanded network of data from students in grades K-12 and in higher education, as well as workforce data, supposedly to make a connection between what students are learning now and what they will need to know in the future.

Steve Braun will serve as the new department’s “data czar.” A Harvard graduate who is a leader in “business intelligence,” Braun co-authored a bill–while a state representative last year–that created the Indiana Career Councils, yet another government layer that plans to coordinate education and workforce development in 11 regions around the state.

To help schools know what to teach, Indiana apparently needs a lot of data, and the plan for data collection is known as the Indiana Network of Knowledge, reports Chalkbeat. Data from the state Departments of Education and Workforce Development and the Commission on Higher Education will reportedly merge with data tracked by private companies.

Braun dismisses concerns about privacy because the network’s goal, he says, is to study trends rather than individuals.

Pence says he wants Indiana to have a stronger connection between education and the business community.

“I believe its imperative every one of our kids graduates from school prepared to either go onto college or a productive career,” Pence says. “I think Indiana has a chance to really reestablish the importance of career and vocational education.”

Pence’s continued expansion of government in Indiana qualifies him as a “technocratic Progressive,” wrote Joy Pullmann at The Federalist in July.

“Instead of showing how conservatives can cut bureaucracy and expand liberty when given the berth,” she said, “Pence has instead been indicating he’s been in Washington too long, and absorbed its comfort with a well-padded government fed by an attenuating citizenry.”

Pullmann observed that when Federalist publisher Ben Domenech asked Pence whether it was conservative policy to expand Medicaid, “a welfare entitlement to subsidize able-bodied childless adults by taking money from hardworking taxpayers in other states–he said of course it is, or he wouldn’t have proposed it.”

And Pence appears to be on a roll with more big government policies. Last week, he announced the launch of a preschool program designed to serve hundreds of low-income children in five Indiana counties, says Indystar.com.

“I came from the mindset that federal Head Start doesn’t work. That it doesn’t achieve lasting results,” Pence had said. “But it was a learning experience for me as I traveled the state in 2013. I sat on the carpet with the kids, and I talked to people like Ted Maple at Day Nursery. I began to understand the importance of early childhood education in overcoming the effects of poverty.”

Now referring to himself as a “solutions conservative” who supports workable ideas over ideology, Pence thanked Indiana state Sen. Earline Rogers, a “left-of-Obama Democrat,” as Indystar states, for promoting his preschool initiative, and then said Rogers was actually instrumental in helping to change his thinking on the issue.

Pence’s deception that he is the first governor to “repeal” the Common Core standards, when he merely hurriedly “rebranded” them, is an act true conservatives will not likely forget as he continues to “evolve” toward the 2016 presidential campaign.

In fact, as Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle reported Monday, another presidential hopeful, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), told Boyle, “If there’s a Republican candidate out there–let’s just say there’s a hypothetical one that’s for Common Core. I’m saying that that hypothetical candidate that’s for Common Core probably doesn’t have much chance of winning in a Republican primary.”

Quoting from the legislation that had Indiana, at least ostensibly, abandon the controversial standards, Erin Tuttle of Hoosiers Against Common Core told Breitbart News in April, “For all Pence’s claims of federalism, his signature legislation removing Indiana from the Common Core required the new standards to ‘comply with federal standards to receive a flexibility waiver.'” 

“His Hoosier process was predicated on satisfying the federal government, thus resulting in a rebrand of the Common Core,” Tuttle added. “This was all about delivering a predetermined result, a set of standards with almost perfect alignment to the Common Core to satisfy the US Department of Education.”


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