Education Week broke the news yesterday that former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said she supported Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind during her 2010 U.S. Senate campaign in California.
A document from her 2010 campaign discovered on her Senate campaign’s website outlined her views on education. Regarding Race to the Top, the document said, “President Obama’s Race to the Top program puts into place some critically important accountability measures that Carly believes will help improve our education system.”
It then lauded “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments help ensure our students graduate high school prepared with the skills necessary to succeed in our 21st century economy.” It also praised the “robust data systems help parents and teachers more accurately and effectively track how a student is learning so they can continually improve their teaching practices to ensure greater student success.”
Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion executive earmark that was part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that designed as a competitive grant program, helped push the Common Core State Standards into 46 states over the course of a year. The stimulus package also funded statewide longitudinal database systems for each state that was a condition for being considered for a Race to the Top grant. The two Common Core assessment consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC, were also funded through that program. Both consortia have seen technical glitches with their rollout and thousands of students refuse to take the new standardized assessments that officially rolled out this spring.
Fiorina’s campaign document also stated that she wanted the debate surrounding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (called No Child Left Behind in its current form) to focus on raising student outcomes. “No Child Left Behind helped us set high standards for our students, and many of our students have met and exceeded that bar,” the document reads.
Overall Fiorina’s stated believe that public education needed “a culture of accountability… supported by high standards, well-aligned metrics and outcome-based rewards and consequences.”
In January, 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.
Caffeinated Thoughts asked Carly Fiorina’s campaign for comment. Fiorina’s communications director, Sarah Isgur Flores, sent Caffeinated Thoughts the following email:
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.
You can see Fiorina’s Senate document below: