Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Clinton Calls Common Core “Laudable Effort,” Repeats False Talking Points


Hillary Clinton has once again sounded off on Common Core, and this time, we don’t need any leaked emails to determine where she stands.

Last week, The Washington Post published a bevy of detailed answers provided by the Clinton campaign in response to a number of education policy-related questions. One question concerned the Democratic nominee’s stance on Common Core:

The Common Core State Standards is not a federal program, but the Obama administration and a bipartisan group of governors have backed its development and implementation in numerous states. Do you support the Common Core initiative? Please explain why or why not. What should the federal role be in relation to Common Core?

The question itself betrays a flawed understanding of Common Core by WaPo, given that the standards — while not technically developed by the federal government — would likely not have been implemented in most states at all without the coercive methods used by the Obama administration. And calling the National Governors Association a “bipartisan group of governors” is also highly misleading — the NGA is a private trade group operating largely independent of any oversight and which has taken tens of millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation in recent years.

But leaving those issues aside for now, let’s take a look at the first paragraph of Clinton’s response:

For many years – going back to my work to improve education in Arkansas – I’ve believed that states should voluntarily adopt a set of rigorous academic standards.  When states came together on Common Core, I thought that was a laudable effort. But, like many Americans, I have concerns about how the Common Core has been implemented. Setting high academic standards shouldn’t mean adding more tests – it should mean ensuring that all children have access to an engaging curriculum that will prepare them for the future.

Ah, yes, the standard response from Common Core supporters embarrassed by its growing unpopularity: call it a well-intentioned project that was not implemented properly. Over the course of this election cycle, we have seen this tack taken by Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Hillary Clinton herself in an attempt to back away from the initiative. However, as The Pulse 2016 contributor Jane Robbins has explained, this is simply a recycled version of that old argument for socialism: Don’t worry that it hasn’t worked before! It just wasn’t implemented correctly!

Clinton goes on to imply that Common Core consists in “high academic standards,” a talking point that has been debunked over and over again, despite its continually being claimed. But interestingly, she also implies here that the standards ensure students’ access to “engaging curriculum,” a perhaps unconscious admission that Common Core does indeed drive curriculum. While supporters of the standards have typically been at pains to deny this connection, on this point, Clinton is undoubtedly right.

Not content to leave things here, however, Clinton moves on to take a swipe at Donald Trump:

Now, my opponent likes to say he will “get rid” of the Common Core on day one of his presidency.  There’s only one problem with that: he can’t.  The Common Core was a state-led effort, and states are completely free to adopt or eliminate the standards.  In fact, the federal government is actually prohibited from telling a state which standards it can or can’t adopt.  If you want to improve education in America, you need to actually understand how it works.

Ironically, Clinton shows by this answer that she is guilty of the very same ignorance she accuses her opponent of — at least, if she is not instead engaging in intentional misinformation. As was mentioned above, Common Core was not a “state-led effort” (the standards were written by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats), and the federal government has, in fact, taken a very active role in pressuring states to adopt the standards.

While Clinton may technically be right that the next president cannot completely “get rid” of Common Core single-handedly, he or she will be able to remove a number of significant obstacles making it difficult for states to do so currently. That Clinton denies this possibility suggests she will not be very likely to change the federal government’s current course on Common Core should she be elected.

Paul Dupont is the managing editor for

Paul Dupont

Paul Dupont is editor of

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