Fiorina Blasts Common Core on Fox

In perhaps her most comprehensive remarks to date, presidential candidate and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina laid out her opposition to Common Core in an interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday.

In the interview, Fiorina compared the federally promoted standards to China’s national curriculum and noted that it repressed innovation by removing choices for teachers and parents.  She also slammed the corporate interests involved in creating Common Core, noting that “national textbook companies and national testing companies are helping now to form and drive these standards, it’s just how bureaucracies work.”

WALLACE:  Well let’s talk about some of the issues, and I’m going to ask you about the 501st question.  You oppose Common Core education standards, and one of your reasons for that has gotten some blowback.  Here it is:

VIDEO:  The argument for Common Core is frequently, “oh, we have to compete with the Chinese.”  I’ve 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’re not terribly imaginative, they don’t innovate, they aren’t entrepreneurial.  That’s why they’re stealing our intellectual property.

WALLACE:  But the fact is China is on track to lead the world in science and technology research by 2019, and more importantly, the US ranks 30th in math literacy in the world and 20th in reading literacy. Question: aren’t we falling behind not just China but the rest of the world when it comes to literacy in education?

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

FIORINA:  Well of course our education system is a big problem.  The point I was trying to make about the Chinese is the system that they have put in place standardizes behavior.  It is part of the repression of that regime and is one of the reasons that China for example has a strategy of continuing to steal our intellectual property.  It is one of the reasons they have not adhered to the requirements of WTO.

Our education system is in trouble, but demonstrably, giving more money to the department of education as we have been doing for almost 40 years doesn’t improve the state of education.  Common Core has become, no matter how it was intended originally, a nationally driven set of bureaucratic standards that teaches teachers how to teach, teaches children how to learn, and what we need is to provide more parental choice so that our kids, anywhere they live, have a chance, and Common Core doesn’t help us do that.

WALLACE:  But I want to pick up on that because you say that Common Core is a bureaucratic program coming out of Washington, driven by Washington.  You’ve talked about the Department of Education.  Here are the facts, Mrs. Fiorina: Common Core didn’t come from the Department of Education; they come from the state governors and the state school officers and local school districts design their curriculum to meet those standards.  In fact, the federal government is barred by law from setting or developing curriculum in local school districts.

FIORINA:  Yes, I understand that’s how it started, but the thing is when a Washington bureaucracy gets involved in any program it becomes heavy handed and standardized, and that’s the way Washington works.  The reason you have so many parents and teachers pushing back against Common Core, and rightly so, is because they believe they are losing their choices and their flexibility.  Here’s another fact about Common Core: National textbook companies and national testing companies are helping now to form and drive these standards, it’s just how bureaucracies work.

We know that the most important thing about a child’s education is to have a great teacher in front of the classroom and a lot of choice and accountability with parents, so that parents can school their children however they think best, whether that’s at home schools or charters or parochial schools.  Common Core unfortunately limits parents’ choices, it limits creativity that a teacher can apply in the classroom, so it will over time limit our children’s chances.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.