Carly Fiorina: Common Core = Crony Capitalism

2016-01-27 12.08.17
Carly Fiorina holds a town hall meeting in Oskaloosa, IA.

At a town hall event in Oskaloosa, IA yesterday former Hewlett Packard CEO and Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was asked about the U.S. Department of Education and she discussed shrinking it’s size and sending that money back to the states and local school districts. She then addressed Common Core and other federal education programs.

“And all these programs, some of them have come out under Republicans too – Common Core, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, they are all bad ideas. Because guess what they are? They are big bureaucratic programs coming out of Washington and, by the way, there are a bunch of interests who helped write those programs.  In the case of Common Core guess who helped write it? Text book companies and the testing companies it’s all crony capitalism folks. It’s alive and well under Republicans and Democrats. We have to take our country back,” Fiorina answered.

This is consistent with what Fiorina has said during the presidential campaign.

In January of last year, Fiorina told Caffeinated Thoughts, “I don’t think Common Core is a good idea.  I don’t support it, by the way, I think the facts are clear, the bigger the Department of Education becomes, the worse our public education becomes.  So there is no connection to spending more money in Washington and a better school system.  In fact, there is every connection between giving parents choice and having real competition and having real accountability in the classroom.

“I also think the argument for Common Core is frequently ‘oh we have to compete with the Chinese.’ I have been doing business in China for decades and I will tell you that yeah the Chinese can take a test, but what they can’t do is innovate.  They are not terribly imaginative.  They’re not entrepreneurial, they don’t innovate, that is why they are stealing our intellectual property.  One of the things we have to maintain about our school systems comes with local control is to teach entrepreneurship, innovation, risk-taking, imagination, these are things that are distinctly American and we can’t lose them,” Fiorina added.

Paul Dupont at The Pulse 2016 points out that Fiorina has used her opposition to Common Core as a wedge issue.  “This effort has included drawing a contrast between herself and other candidates, such as Jeb Bush, whom she has chided for his support of Common Core on more than one occasion.  On education policy, she has also been critical of the “heavy-handed” methods of “federal bureaucracies,” implying she would support a more decentralized, states-oriented approach,” Dupont wrote.

She does have an asterisk by her name however. During her U.S. Senate campaign she expressed support for No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top which has earned her a C+ on the American Principles Project Common Core report card.

Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina campaign spokesperson, explained this to me in an email sent last May:

Carly does not support Common Core. As she has said, there is absolutely no evidence that the work of a big, centralized bureaucracy in Washington makes things better. In fact, there’s loads of evidence to the contrary. The Department of Education has been growing in size and budget for 40 years and the quality of our education continues to deteriorate.

Carly has always believed that choice and accountability are necessary to fix our education system. We can do that by having great teachers and by giving these teachers the ability and flexibility to teach the things that our kids need: risk-taking, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Her support for state-based accountability measures in 2010 was about implementing education reforms that encouraged more accountability and transparency at the state level. Common Core, which wasn’t implemented in California until this past fall, has been a set of standards created in DC and driven by the education-industrial complex seeking to commercialize our students. Frankly, the two aren’t even close to the same thing. Carly favors state driven accountability, which she did in 2010 and she does now. That is emphatically not what common core has been or become.

At the time that Race to the Top was proposed in 2009 and when Carly supported it in 2010, it was a funding program based on real performance metrics and opposed by the teachers’ unions. But like so many other government programs with worthy goals backed by flowery speeches, it hasn’t turned out to be what we were promised. Instead, Race to the Top is just the latest example of the federal bureaucracy caving to the powerful interests in Washington and abandoning its original goals.

If Fiorina was graded again based on what I’ve heard throughout her campaign she may be deserving of a higher grade.