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Huckabee, Carson, Fiorina Join GOP Presidential Race

By Alyson Klein — May 05, 2015 2 min read
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Surprising no one, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has joined the ranks of GOP presidential contenders. As the top executive in the Natural State, Huckabee actually boosted spending on K-12 education, even raising taxes to do so. And since leaving office he’s been a proponent of the power of arts education, including at the GOP convention in 2012.

But Huckabee’s most significant education move of late might be his “evolving” position on the Common Core standards. He started off as an ardent supporter, even (unsuccessfully) prodding lawmakers in Oklahoma to stick with the Common Core. But, after big pushback in conservative circles, he began to back off his support, saying that the words “Common Core” should disappear from the lexicon, but that the standards themselves were probably okay.

In January, Huckabee went further, saying in a speech at an Iowa event for conservatives that he could support the Common Core, which he said had become “a frankenstandard.”

There’s a lot more to say about Huckabee’s edu-background—he won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 with a big assist from homeschoolers, for example. And, as a candidate in the 2008 season, he won the endorsements of several local and state affiliates of the National Education Association. (The national union stopped short of making an endorsement in the GOP primary, but Huckabee appeared at their convention. And he was actually hit for it by other Republican contenders.) During the 2008 season, he was also criticized for his support of in-state tuition and scholarship aid for the children of undocumented immigrants.

Huckabee isn’t the only GOP contender to throw his hat in the ring this week. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, also announced her candidacy Monday.

Fiorina’s position on Common Core has also, umm, “evolved.” As an ultimately unsuccessful Senate candidate in 2010, Fiorina praised the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program—which encouraged the adoption of Common Core—on her campaign website. Without mentioning Common Core by name specifically, she lauded the program for championing “internationally benchmarked” standards and assessments that help prepare students for the 21st-century job market.

But more recently, she has tweaked others in the GOP field, especially former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, for their support of the standards. Last month, for example, she appeared on a conservative talk show and attacked Bush, saying his record suggests “he is a big government Republican. I don’t tend to agree with Common Core ... Bureaucracies only know one way: It’s called heavy-handed. So if you get a federal bureaucracy, or in some cases even a state bureaucracy, involved in anything, it will become heavy-handed.”

She’s also argued in favor of school choice and said that education is a key vehicle for student advancement.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who once separated conjoined twins, is also making a GOP White House bid. On the website for his nascent political campaign, Carson has also taken aim at the Common Core. He says, “In recent years, there has been a troubling trend of the U.S. Department of Education increasingly trying to dictate how children are educated in our primary and secondary schools. This must stop, and Common Core must be overturned.” Carson is also a school choice fan.

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