The Common Core Report Card: Carly Fiorina Gets a C+

In our Common Core report card, we graded Carly Fiorina and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue.
… Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it.
C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause.
D … Has an overall negative record on the issue.
F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did Carly Fiorina do?

Ending the Common Core System: B-
Protecting State and Local Decision Making: B-
Protecting Child and Family Privacy: C

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: C+

Like Carson, Fiorina is limited to commentary. Although she says the right things now, she praised Race to the Top during her Senate bid.

In recent statements, Carly Fiorina has highlighted Common Core as a key policy difference between herself and Jeb Bush. She has stated:

I think Common Core is a really bad idea. It is a giant bureaucratic program, and we have demonstrated over forty years that the Department of Education can get bigger and bigger and bigger, and the quality of education continues to deteriorate. I think it’s pretty clear based on those facts that giving more money to the Department of Education doesn’t improve learning in the classroom. So why would we make that worse?

Further, she has addressed other problems with Common Core:

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.

However, when Fiorina was running for a Senate seat in California in 2010, her campaign released a document outlining her stance on education. In it, the Fiorina campaign praised Obama’s Race to the Top program as “put[ting] into place some critically important accountability measures” and “help[ing] improve our education system.” Race to the Top, of course, was the vehicle for installing the Common Core. Additionally, Fiorina’s campaign praised the affiliated “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments” as well as “robust data systems.” The document also claimed that “No Child Left Behind helped us set a high bar for our students . . . .”

In an email to Caffeinated Thoughts, Fiorina spokeswoman Sarah Flores addressed the “Carly for California” document:

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.

Fiorina’s website states, “Government is rigged in favor of powerful interests. The only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is running it.” She would do well to address these issues more often and in more detail — especially given that the Common Core is being driven by the “powerful interests” that claim to serve the interests of the economy and business.

Fiorina would do well to discuss the issue in more depth, to raise the qualitative problems, and to state whether she has any proposals to safeguard state decision-making.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APIA Education.