This primary season has been marked by Republican candidates changing their approach to education, but the controversy isn’t restricted to one party. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, in her latest efforts to secure the support of the National Education Association, tried to blunt her support for Common Core by criticizing the testing that comes with it:
“Are tests important? Yes. Do we need accountability? Yes. But we’ve gotten off track in what we test and what we test for that we sacrifice so much else in the curriculum, in the school day and school year,” said Clinton in an interview excerpt released by the NEA.
This is a big change in tone for Clinton, who earlier this year called opposition to Common Core “unfortunate” and described education as a “non-family enterprise.” The reason for her sudden transformation to a skeptic? Probably an attempt to garner support from NEA vice president Lily Eskelsen García. García has spoken out a lot about “the over-use and abuse of standardized tests,” a major reason many teachers unions are leery of Common Core. Clinton gamely suggested that she was in favor of de-emphasizing these tests, saying, “It is just dead wrong to make teachers the scapegoats for all of society’s problems.”
Clinton’s comments are just the latest sign that candidates are realizing “top down” education policies like Common Core are toxic to the American public. Virtually everyone in the field has, to some degree, distanced themselves from their support for federal involvement in education. Hopefully, they will soon propose solutions to empower parents and teachers to take back control of their children’s learning.
Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.