Hillary Clinton’s Position on Common Core: ‘Unknown’

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about her new book "Hard Choices" on Friday, June 20, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay / Associated Press

In a review of Hillary Clinton’s stand on top issues in the nation, PBS reported that Clinton’s position on the Common Core standards is “unknown.”

Since Clinton has been known to avoid the hot seat on various issues, it’s quite possible she will not weigh in on the controversial education reform initiative for some time yet.

In fact, last month, the New York Times observed that Clinton would be in a tight spot on the issue of the nationalized standards, walking a line between the normally supportive teachers’ unions – which have objected to teacher evaluations linked to students’ performance on Common Core-aligned tests – and wealthy Democrat donors who support the standards, changes to teacher evaluations, and charter schools.

The issue of the Common Core standards has also busted through the political party line, with both conservatives and the far left opposing the initiative, albeit often for different reasons. Establishment elite politicians and some education gurus, as well as Clinton’s Wall Street donors, however, are on board with the Common Core, believing the reform will play very heavily into a workforce development scheme that will ensure a source of inexpensive lower level labor that will be living right here in the United States for years to come.

Despite her silence, the call for Clinton to make her position known on Common Core is already being heard.

“This is an issue that’s important to a lot of Democratic donors,” said John Petry, a hedge fund manager who was a founder of the Harlem Success Academy, a New York charter school. “Donors want to hear where she stands.”

Similarly, Whitney Tilson, Kase Capital manager and a board member for the leftwing Democrats for Education Reform, said “I hope she sees this as a winning political issue. She has had more longstanding ties to the teachers’ union, certainly, than Obama ever had. She’s thrown some bones to both sides and I think is sort of trying to triangulate on this.”

However, though Clinton has not had to use the words “Common Core” in her recent government job as Secretary of State, the roots of the initiative have been part of her philosophy for decades.

One of the most controversial aspects of the standards is the student data collection, a requirement for states that sought federal grants from President Obama’s Race to the Top (RttT) stimulus bill and waivers from the restrictions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In fact, student data collection is the basis of the relationship between Common Core and amnesty, a relationship that took solid shape in the 1990’s when Hillary Clinton’s husband was running for president. Strong supporters of the Common Core standards are also advocates for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Immediately following Bill Clinton’s election to the presidency in November of 1992, Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), was involved in the early stages of what would ultimately become the Common Core standards reform.

With Clinton’s presidency secured, Tucker proposed his agenda to the new First Lady in his now well-known “letter to Hillary Clinton:”

I still cannot believe you won. But utter delight that you did pervades all the circles in which I move…

The subject we were discussing was what you and Bill should do now about education, training and labor market policy…

Our purpose in these meetings was to propose concrete actions that the Clinton administration could take — between now and the inauguration, in the first 100 days and beyond. The result, from where I sit, was really exciting. We took a very large leap forward in terms of how to advance the agenda on which you and we have all been working — a practical plan for putting all the major components of the system in place within four years, by the time Bill has to run again.

We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development, almost all of the current components of which were put in place before World War II. The danger is that each of the ideas that Bill advanced in the campaign in the area of education and training could be translated individually in the ordinary course of governing into a legislative proposal and enacted as a program. This is the plan of least resistance. But it will lead to these programs being grafted onto the present system, not to a new system, and the opportunity will have been lost. If this sense of time and place is correct, it is essential that the administration’s efforts be guided by a consistent vision of what it wants to accomplish in the field of human resource development, with respect both to choice of key officials and the program.

Tucker continued with a description of his “vision of the kind of national –not federal – human resources development system the nation could have.”

He wrote:

This is interwoven with a new approach to governing that should inform that vision. What is essential is that we create a seamless web of opportunities, to develop one’s skills that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone — young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student. It needs to be a system driven by client needs (not agency regulations or the needs of the organization providing the services), guided by clear standards that define the stages of the system for the people who progress through it, and regulated on the basis of outcomes that providers produce for their clients, not inputs into the system.

As the Eagle Forum observed, Tucker’s plan was implemented in three laws passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1994: the Goals 2000 Act, the School-to-Work Act, and the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These new laws established the following mechanisms to restructure the public schools:

  • Bypass all elected officials on school boards and in state legislatures by making federal funds flow to the Governor and his appointees on workforce development boards.
  • Use a computer database, a.k.a. “a labor market information system,” into which school personnel would scan all information about every schoolchild and his family, identified by the child’s social security number: academic, medical, mental, psychological, behavioral, and interrogations by counselors. The computerized data would be available to the school, the government, and future employers.
  • Use “national standards” and “national testing” to cement national control of tests, assessments, school honors and rewards, financial aid, and the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM), which is designed to replace the high school diploma.

Tucker clearly saw Bill and Hillary Clinton’s advance to the White House as the start of the fulfillment of this “school-to-work” initiative, one that is now actively shared by many establishment governors of both parties, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and local state business and industry groups. The Common Core standards and the student data collected through the Common Core-aligned tests will serve as a vehicle to provide big business with a government-guaranteed labor force – a genuine planned economy.

With the unproven Common Core standards now among the top issues facing the 2016 presidential candidates, and pressure from two opposing Democrat camps whose support she desires, Hillary Clinton will not be able to remain silent for long in this controversy.


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