During her first official campaign event in Iowa last week, Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, had words of praise for Common Core and called the education of children a "non-family enterprise."
Sean Davis of The Federalist writes that these controversial statements about education were in response to a question about how quality education can be offered throughout the nation. She continued by saying that families are being too "negative" about the current system. Clinton then called the current system "the most important non-family enterprise" in the US. Clinton said she did not agree with the concerns about Common Core and believes that opponents do not understand the value of the top-down curriculum.
Clinton acknowledged that the country should not have "two tiers of education," yet, the former First Lady is opposed to school choice, an initiative that would allow parents in school districts that are failing to send their children to better schools. Her "non-family enterprise" statement will no doubt anger families who subscribe to the idea that parents should be key members of the team educating and advocating for their own children.
The candidate's appearance was at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa and took the form of a round-table discussion among students and educators. BizPacReview's Michael Dorstewitz reported that a teacher who was present asked this question:
"I think the Common Core is a wonderful step in the right direction of improving American education," 20-year veteran high school English teacher "Diane" said. "It's painful to see that attacked. What could be done to bring that heart back to education in the United States?"
Clinton's answer, in part:
"Your question is a larger one," Clinton said, after praising the teacher's statement as a "powerful, touching comment. "How do we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important, non-family enterprise and the raising of the next generation — which is how our kids are educated?"
Libertarian Fox Business Network host John Stossel took the opportunity on Twitter to say that Clinton calling education a non-family enterprise made him not want to live in her village, an allusion to her 1996 book "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us."
Although Clinton stood staunchly behind Common Core, she also discussed the fact that there are differences among towns and areas within a state. This, reports Mike Opelka, writing for The Blaze, means that students need and deserve tailored attention. Problems surrounding education in Monticello, said Clinton, are not the same as the problems found in the inner cities of the country's largest urban areas.
Clinton's endorsement of Common Core places her in the camp of some wealthy Democratic donors who believe it is the best way to accomplish education reform. Teachers unions, for the most part, are against Common Core because it links teacher evaluations to student success, a practice the unions call unfair. Sean Higgins, writing for the Washington Examiner, quoted Clinton on the Common Core topic:
" It wasn't politicized. It was about coming up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was. That there wouldn't be two tiers of education," Clinton said.
Supporters of Common Core within the Democratic Party want Clinton to endorse the standards, but understand that her ties to teachers unions are strong and longstanding and may complicate her efforts.
Whitney Tilson, a board member of Democrats for Education Reform, told the New York Times last month,"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."