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WikiLeaks: Clinton Called Common Core a ‘Political Failure’ in Speech

By Andrew Ujifusa — October 13, 2016 3 min read
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the Common Core State Standards a “political failure” in a speech to an education technology company, according to excerpts published by WikiLeaks earlier this week.

And in the same speech, Clinton expressed skepticism that most politicians actually will be able to exert a lot of influence on K-12 policy.

Clinton gave the speech about the common core to Knewton, an adaptive-learning company, in 2014, according to the document posted by WikiLeaks, an organization that published information the group says points to government and corporate misconduct. The Clinton campaign has not confirmed the authenticity of the speech excerpts and other material posted by WikiLeaks, and has charged that hackers linked to the Russian government illegally obtained the material related to Clinton and the campaign. We reached out to Knewton to see if it would confirm that Clinton delivered the speech excerpts published by WikiLeaks, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.

Clinton’s remarks about the standards were first reported by the Breitbart news website.

Although she hasn’t spoken a lot about the common core on the campaign trail, Clinton supports the standards, and in the speech excerpt she notes that the common core was “negotiated by a bipartisan group of governors.” (The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers oversaw the creation of the common core.) However, Clinton told Knewton that nobody stepped up to the plate with a coordinated plan to help the public understand the standards, according to the speech excerpt:

I think this was a political failure because they negotiated something and they had no real agreed-upon program for explaining it and selling it to people so that they left an opening for those who were always in the education debate, who don’t think anybody should be told anything about what to study, even if it’s the multiplication tables. You know, that that should all be left to local control. ... And then using common core results for teacher evaluation when everybody knew that it was going to be complicated to implement.

Clinton has long been skeptical of linking test scores to teacher evaluations. (However, she has supported a form of merit pay.) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, has attacked the common core since the start of his campaign.

The common core has been politically controversial for several years. Some have attacked the standards for not being of the high quality their supporters claim, while others have said they’ve been poorly implemented in many schools and inappropriately linked to other areas of policy, like teacher evaluations. Several states have dropped or altered the standards to various degrees. However, the majority of the states that have adopted the common core in roughly the last half-dozen years have kept the standards.

In a separate excerpt published by WikiLeaks that deals directly with education, Clinton says that while she knows many politicians who are interested in education, "[U]nless you’re a governor or maybe a mayor who has authority over your schools, there’s not really very much that most politicians can do because of the way our system of education is governed.”

She goes on to say that the role of politicians in many cases should be making sure they’re “more knowledgeable about what actually works in education, and support that, as opposed to seizing on past ideas and just driving those without regard to evidence.”

Click here for more on the K-12 policy views held by Clinton and Trump. And you can watch a video of us discussing the candidates’ views below:

Photo: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives at a rally at Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colo., in August. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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