During a recent education summit moderated by Campbell Brown – who founded The Seventy Four, a non-profit website covering news about education reform – GOP presidential candidates Govs. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Scott Walker (R-WI) and Chris Christie (R-NJ) shut down Brown’s argumentative questions that were pro-Common Core.
Breitbart News also discovered evidence that prior to the candidate forum, Brown attended a fundraiser for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Brown, a former journalist for CNN, appears to have come out in support of Common Core, previously writing a column for the Washington Post titled – “Political attacks on Common Core are driven by pandering.”
Brown is married to Dan Senor, an establishment Republican advisor, who worked both for Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush.
Brown was recently photographed at a fundraiser for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a supporter of Common Core, just a few weeks prior to moderating the event. As Bush came out on stage and Brown began the interview, she didn’t disclose that she’d been at the fundraiser.
Both Senor and Brown have also made multiple television appearances criticizing GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who has often been a vocal critic against Bush, his competitor.
Brown’s reported support of Common Core came through in her questioning of Walker, Jindal and Christie at the education summit, where all three were able to force Brown to move on to another topic after she hammered the issue.
Brown hinted that Walker had flip-flopped on the issue, asking, “You were an early supporter of Common Core. You authorized spending to get it implemented in your state. What happened? When did you change your position?”
“In our case it was part of what was in place before we came. In 2010, when I ran for Governor, it wasn’t even on our radar. We didn’t talk about it in the 2010 election. It was not something I and most people were hearing about at the time,” Walker began to answer, but Brown interrupted him.
“It wasn’t controversial then,” she stated.
“As often is the case even though it is not a federal law, as the federal Department of Education started getting involved with some of the funding and things of that nature…it started changing things,” Walker said, explain that a number of parents, teachers and activists – among others came to him with concerns about common core roughly two years ago. He said after he did some research, he found they had “legitimate concerns.”
“This was taking some of those decisions away from people at the local level….and instead driving those from outside of our state particularly,” Walker explained.
He said in his state’s budget language, it removed the requirement for school districts to implement Common Core standards.
Walker said, “I want high standards. I just want them set by people at the local level – by people who have to be accountable, school board members who have to be accountable to parents, and teachers and citizens – right back in their own communities.”
But let me pressure you on this a little bit, because here’s where it kind of becomes a challenge. You’re not Governor of Wisconsin anymore your President of the United States lets say, and now you’re responsible for every child in this country and you’re responsible for holding other governors accountable to make sure that those promises of high standards by the states actually come true and they do raise standards. The accountability piece, how do you do that?
“I’ll challenge that premise,” Walker began.
“Ok,” said Brown.
“I don’t think the President of the United States is responsible to hold the governors accountable – I think the people are responsible for holding the governors accountable,” Walker stated.
“So, wait can I re…” Brown tried to interject amid crowd applause to Walker’s answer, but he continued.
“The federal government…doesn’t have a very good track record of that either of holding anybody accountable. You look at not just education, but the VA, and IRS and all those other places out there, the federal government is the last place in the world I want holding state and local school districts accountable,” Walker said. “If you want accountability, send the money and the power back to the states.”
Brown also asked Gov. Bobby Jindal about common core hinting he had “flip flopped” on the issue.
So, let’s talk about common core. You were a big proponent of common core in the early days. I moderated a panel with you and Condoleezza Rice and we were talking, it was, you know, a couple years after common core had been implemented, and you were still pushing it. What happened, why did you change your mind?
“Look, I like the concept of what we were told Common Core was going to be. We were told voluntary, locally controlled, high standards – now, who’s against that?” Jindal responded.
I’ve got two main objections to common core. The first is philosophically, I’ve never believed in a federal government role for making curricula or other decisions that should be done at the local and at the state level. So, now you’ve got the federal government using No Child Left Behind Waivers – over 40 states have waivers by the way, or funding our own tax dollars telling states you’ve got to adopt these common core standards or you don’t get your own money back or you don’t get waivers.
Brown then interrupts Jindal. “Let me stop you for one second though because the federal government did that from the very beginning, they incentivized adoption of common core with federal dollars and you still supported it for two years after and you were taking those federal dollars…”
Jindal then interrupted right back.
This was like Obamacare, you had to pass the bill to know what was in it – we didn’t know, cause there was no opportunity for accountability or input. In our state for example, we believe the Department of Education didn’t follow the procurement code, they didn’t follow the Administration Procedures Act – so parents thought they would have a chance to provide input, university experts thought they would have a chance to provide input, and instead we now have math experts saying this is no way to teach math. We’ve got parents saying we weren’t listened to. We’ve got moms saying they were disrespected when they try to show up to provide input.
Jindal challenged, “Remember, we just spent a lot of time talking about how parents are the most important decision makers for their children. If we believe that about school choice, how can we then turn around and say we don’t want to listen to those same moms when it comes to common core and curricula decisions?”
Jindal then said his second concern is a “one size fits all standard” because all children learn differently. He explained his son was doing math problems in a way that was nothing like Jindal had learned, and because his son couldn’t show the six-step process in solving the math problem – although he had gotten it correct – the teacher marked it wrong.
“I couldn’t tell him he had done anything wrong,” Jindal said. “This is not an intuitive way to teach math.”
He questioned, “Why do they think they’re smarter than us? Why does D.C. think they know better than us?”
“But … but let me ask you this,” Brown shot back, about to reveal her support of Common Core through her next question.
This is me asking you as a mom. I have a kid going into the second grade and he’s pretty good at math. And he’s learning Singapore math, which is common core aligned math and he brought his math problems home to me for homework help and I didn’t understand what he was doing either because that’s not how I was taught math. But I had the opposite reaction of you. I was fascinated by how much more thoughtful he was about solving that problem than I would have been.
Brown said in trying to better children to compete on the global stage, “Shouldn’t we be challenging them and be willing to allow our education system to evolve and get better even if you don’t understand how to do that math problem?”
“I disagree. I want parents to be able to help their children with their homework,” Jindal said. “We either think that parents and local communities are smart enough to adopt good standards for their kids and tough standards or we think this will only happen if people in D.C. force us to do this cause they’re smarter than us – and they know better than us. I just don’t think that’s true. I don’t think the nations collective wisdom’s in D.C.”
The last candidate to take the stage at the summit in New Hampshire was Christie, who had inherited a state that had implemented Common Core standards he later did away with.
In Christie’s sit down interview with Brown, she questioned him about an alleged “flip flop” on Common Core as she did both Walker and Jindal.
Brown asked, “You were originally for Common Core. You even criticized some of the Republicans running for president from running away from it for political reasons, but you seemed to have backed away from it yourself now – what’s going on?”
Christie said, “I didn’t seem to back away from it – I did.”
Brown – “So, what was the …”
Christie interrupted, “It doesn’t work. I tried four years of common core in New Jersey…what happened was three constituencies in my state hate common core – Teachers. Parents. Students – well…you know, after awhile – I mean and I stuck with it. I fought for a while against those constituencies… I did it for four years.” Christie ultimately said he listened to his constituents and as a leader, decided to do away with common core.
Brown followed up amid applause, “Could it have been that implementation wasn’t done properly?” Christie fired back:
Government was implementing Campbell, so it’s always acutely possible that implementation wasn’t perfect. But the fact is, that the thing that offended teachers and parents the most … was that they felt that decision making authority for their children to learn was taken away from them as parents and being taken away from teachers,” Christie responded. “I’ve listened and that’s why I backed away from it ultimately.
Brown again followed up. “One more question and we’ll get off… the idea behind Common Core was the commonality piece, right? We think about national security in this country as being national, we all care about military preparedness…isn’t the knowledge of our citizenry in this country as important to our standing in the world, our competitiveness and our national security as our missiles are?
Christie said, “Sure it is, but it doesn’t need to be taught by one national textbook.” He went on to say each region has it’s own culture and education approach and in America, differences are celebrated.
“I agree with the premise, I disagree with the prescription.” Christie concluded, “The prescription isn’t a national set of standards.”
Breitbart News reached out to Brown about her position on Common Core in light of her Washington Post column and argumentative pro-common core questions she asked the candidates as well as whether or not she disclosed attending a fundraiser for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush prior to moderating the candidate forum.
The Seventy Four spokesperson Stefan Friedman contacted Breitbart News with the following statement:
“Campbell and everyone at The 74 believe in the value of rich debate, and very much appreciated these candidates willingness to be part of an honest and challenging conversation. Campbell has not donated to any presidential candidates; as a journalist covering the education policy positions of the presidential candidates and their debate over education, she does not believe it is appropriate to make financial donations to any of the candidates. However, she does attend a range of political events — from rallies to fundraisers — to learn more about the candidates as she and The 74 are covering them all. She has attended events for many of the other presidential candidates, but will not attend if a donation or endorsement is required (No such donation or endorsement was required at the Jeb Bush event).”