Photo credit: Lance Martens
Photo credit: Lance Martens
Photo credit: Lance Martens

After Carly Fiorina’s performance Wednesday night during the 2nd Republican Presidential Debate the former Hewlett Packard CEO is under increasing scrutiny with her rise in the polls since. Fiorina during the 2016 race has expressed opposition to the Common Core State Standards, a set of national standards in math and English language arts, that were designed by special interest groups and pushed by the U.S. Department of Education.

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.

Caffeinated Thoughts reported in May that during Fiorina’s U.S. Senate race in 2010 she expressed support for Race to the Top, the federal grant program used to encourage states to adopt Common Core and other reforms, as well as No Child Left Behind.  At the time Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s spokesperson, responded:

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.

In August, American Principles in Action gave Fiorina a C+ in their candidate report card on Common Core opposition, primarily based on her previous support for Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind. Two of her recent associations have some grassroots activists concerned about her commitment to opposing Common Core.

Fiorina chose Scott Smith, the former Mayor of Mesa and Arizona gubernatorial candidate, as her campaign’s Arizona co-chair. He was the only Republican gubernatorial candidate who supported keeping the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, the name they given to the Common Core by former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Craig Barnett hosted a fundraiser for Fiorina in Arizona on September 10th. He is on the Board of Directors of Achieve, Inc.  Achieve, Inc. was largely responsible for the development of the Common Core State Standards.

The involvement and interaction of these two individuals have led some activists to doubt Fiorina’s sincerity in regards to her opposition to Common Core, especially in light of her own past.

Fiorina’s campaign reaffirmed their opposition to Common Core. Anna Epstein, Fiorina’s campaign communications director, told Caffeinated Thoughts,”Carly is an outspoken critic of Common Core. She welcomes the support of people around the country–even those who don’t agree with her on every issue.”

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