Common Core and the Presidential Candidates

By Charlotte Cuthbertson, Epoch Times
March 24, 2016 4:18 pm Last Updated: March 27, 2016 6:24 pm

Common Core, the controversial education standards for K–12 students, hasn’t been a topic all the candidates have spoken about often, but there are some strong opinions among them.

In the Republican camp, both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are vehemently opposed to Common Core. Trump has uploaded at least three videos to his Facebook page in the last few months, calling the program a disaster and pledging to kill it.

Donald Trump

“I’m a tremendous believer in education, but education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education. Common Core is a total disaster, we can’t let it continue,” Trump said in a Jan. 26 video on his Facebook page.

Ted Cruz has a similar stance.

Ted Cruz

“I think we should repeal every word of Common Core. Education is far too important to have it governed by unelected bureaucrats down in Washington,” he said, on a YouTube video of a meeting in New Hampshire on March 15, 2015.

The federal government has no authority to do things like set the curriculum in education.
— Ted Cruz

“The federal government has no authority to do things like set the curriculum in education. That needs to be at the state level or, even better, at the local level,” Cruz said.

The Democratic candidates have been more reticent in stating an explicit stance on Common Core, though Hillary Clinton seemingly endorsed it at an education roundtable in Iowa in February.

Hillary Clinton

“The really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort. It was actually nonpartisan. It wasn’t politicized. … Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time. And [speaking to Iowans] you see the value of it, you understand why that helps you organize your whole education system. And a lot of states unfortunately haven’t had that, and so don’t understand the value of a core, in this sense a Common Core,” Clinton said, according to a C-Span video.

We should be ruthless in looking at tests and eliminating them if they do not actually help us move our kids forward.
— Hillary Clinton

However, Clinton also backed Obama’s 2015 announcement of a “Testing Action Plan” to identify ways to ease the burdens of school testing for educators and families.

“While testing can provide communities with full information about how our students are doing and help us determine whether we have achievement gaps, we can and must do better. We should be ruthless in looking at tests and eliminating them if they do not actually help us move our kids forward,” Clinton said, according to a briefing paper on her website.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders has comprehensive opinions on education in general and doesn’t seem opposed to Common Core, though he hasn’t outright endorsed it, either. In early 2015 he voted against an amendment (that Cruz co-sponsored) that would, “prohibit the federal government from ‘mandating, incentivizing, or coercing’ states into adopting Common Core or any other standards.”

Bernie Sanders … doesn’t seem opposed to Common Core, though he hasn’t outright endorsed it, either.

As for standardized testing, Sanders states on his senate website that he was a “vigorous opponent of the standardized testing regimen put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) because it narrowed school curriculum and constrained the development of critical thinking and creativity.

John Kasich

“He supported the Every Student Succeeds Act, which became law in December 2015 and did away with the worst aspects of NCLB. Every Student Succeeds moves us closer to a system that promotes creative learning by reducing the number of “fill-in-the-bubble” standardized tests and instead evaluates students based on their understanding of the curriculum and their ability to use it creatively.”

Education is a state and local issue and should not be micro-managed by the federal government.
— John Kasich

John Kasich doesn’t mention Common Core outright, but his campaign website clearly states that he’s not in favor of federal standards. 

“Education is a state and local issue and should not be micro-managed by the federal government,” Kasich’s website states.

As president, Kasich would “call on states to develop, adopt and maintain their own rigorous standards, not impose federally mandated learning standards on local schools.”

Common Core Controversy

New York has revamped its testing after thousands of parents had their children opt out of tests last year. Under state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia, students between 3rd and 8th grades in New York will encounter less questions in English and Math tests as well as the possibility of untimed tests. Common Core testing starts next month.

While Oklahoma is the only state to completely break away from Common Core, at least 20 other states have rejected the shared tests. Originally, 45 states embraced Common Core when it was introduced six years ago.