Hillary Clinton Sifting Through Education Reform Landscape


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is being pushed by both sides to state where she stands on education reform. While teachers unions and others from her progressive base would like to see her oppose initiatives that threaten job security for teachers, her liberal donors typically favor a wide variety of reforms, including charter schools and other standards that teachers largely oppose.

While Clinton did not have to announce her feelings toward Common Core, Race to the Top or teacher evaluations in tenure decisions the last time she ran for president, this time around she will most likely have to take a stand.

"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."

The increase in pressure for Clinton to make her views public point to an additional problem that she will face: that she will continue to face demands from both sides of the Democratic party concerning a number of issues that arose during the Obama administration, including trade pacts, the regulation of Wall Street, and tax policy.

While her allies believe she has plenty of time to make her positions known, as she has no strong primary opponent as of yet, advocates plan to use any leverage they can to have her opinions publicized as quickly as possible.

Petry said that there were a number of other political contests that wealthy Democrats who would like to see changes to education be made, such as linking teacher tenure to student performance, could be focusing their funding elsewhere, including congressional, state and local races, reports Maggie Haberman for The New York Times.

"She believes we need to have some kind of ways that we can measure student progress," said Ann O'Leary, who has worked closely with Clinton on educational issues. She was "also sympathetic that the test regime has become very burdensome in driving the education system in ways that many people think is problematic," O'Leary told the Times.

Meanwhile, Republicans are also divided on the large issues. While current Republican presidential front-runner Jeb Bush supports Common Core, other contenders from the party do not feel the same way.

Clinton has had a close relationship with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten for years, and the union backed Clinton in her efforts to seek presidency in 2007. The union chief remains constant in her arguments that a number of reform policies do not always work when set into motion. Clinton "will give everyone a fair hearing" and make a decision on the basis of "what's good for kids. Period," Weingarten told the Times. "Anybody who thinks otherwise just doesn't know her."

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