Correcting the Record: Fiorina Calls Common Core ‘Crony Capitalism’

During a town hall event in Iowa, Carly Fiorina claimed Common Core State Standards are the work of Washington bureaucrats and “crony capitalism,” Breitbart News reports. “In the case of Common Core, guess who helped write it? Textbook companies and the testing companies. It’s all crony capitalism, folks,” Fiorana asserted.

In actuality, Common Core State Standards were developed by educators and experts from 49 states and territories under the leadership of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. States then voluntarily adopted the standards.

Six years and two national elections later, states continue to refine and build on the Common Core—exactly as the standards were designed. Only one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Common Core—Oklahoma—has replaced the standards with a set of demonstrably different learning goals, and, as a Collaborative for Student Success white paper points out, the result has been a tumultuous road for students and teachers.

Common Core State Standards gives local educators and administrators full control over decisions about what materials and curricula to use. Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote last year, “Recall that the Common Core is a set of standards—not a curriculum—which details what students are expected to learn in each grade. It does not specify how lessons are taught in the classroom or what textbooks must be used.

In a new memo, Karen Nussle explains that attacks against the Common Core, like those Fiorina makes, are a “non-starter” in the presidential race. “Many of the contenders have a complicated relationship with the standards marked by inconsistencies and shifting positions, while others have staked out governance positions on standards that are unconstitutional.

“These vulnerabilities explain the difficulty candidates have in scoring a clean hit on the topic of Common Core, and why, in turn, early predictions about the political toxicity of the issue never quite materialized.”

Nussle points out that Fiorina herself was once a supporter of Common Core State Standards and is now guilty of posturing on the issue. Likewise, Campbell Brown, a respected education advocate, says, “here’s some advice for people running for office: If you want to campaign against core standards, perhaps you should try having core standards of your own first.”