Friday, October 9, 2015

Where the Current 2016 Presidential Hopefuls Stand on Education

As more presidential hopefuls begin to announce intentions to run for the 2016 presidential election, find out where each one currently stands on education and Common Core standards.

The Democrats

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Some of the major issues with education Clinton would like to address with her potential presidency would be teacher pay, putting behavioral skill-training into the nation-wide curriculum, and investing in universal preschool.

Clinton wants to increase funding to special education, a promise she said the federal government made but hasn't fulfilled since streamlining students with disabilities into regular classrooms. She wants an investment into education research to avoid jumping from "fad to fad" and she wants to see more energy and funding dedicated to improving the education of children from low-income families.

Clinton is poised to have the endorsement of the National Education Association, despite some dissent on whether to endorse her or Sanders.

"Last month, the NEA in New Hampshire also endorsed Clinton. But support for a Clinton endorsement within NEA’s rank and file isn’t widespread. Vermont’s NEA chapter endorsed Sanders in June. NEA chapters in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nebraska urged the national council to wait before acting," according to

On the Common Core: She supports it, and has called the argument surrounding it "unfortunate" during a round-table discussion on education in Iowa earlier this year. Clinton, answering a question from a Common Core-supporter, said Iowa is generally in favor of the standards because it has adopted a solid structure for implementation.

"So Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time, and you see the value of it. You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system," she said.

Bernie Sanders

Similarly to Clinton, Sanders hopes to address low teacher pay and early education in his presidency. He called the notion of beginning education when children reach four or five years old "archaic."

On the subject of standardized testing, in 2001, Sanders voted against the final No Child Left Behind Act that has now become an infamous piece of legislation that educators and policymakers a like are desperate to replace. More recently, thought, during the Senate's re-write of the act, Sanders voted in favor of a measure called the Murphy amendment, which would have supported keeping some parts of the federal mandates behind NCLB, such as punishing schools considered to be failing based on test scores.

Sanders is passionate about decreasing the cost of higher education and resolving student debt.

On the Common Core: Sanders has remained relatively mum on how he feels about the Common Core, but in 2011 voted in favor of an act set to overhaul No Child Left Behind and give more flexibility to the state and local governments in regard to education as Senator in Vermont.

Curiously, however, in March of this year, he voted against an anti-Common Core amendment that would allow states to opt-out of educational standards without penalty, therefore making his stance unclear.

Martin O'Malley

The former Baltimore mayor and two-term Maryland governor also supports investing in early education. His ultimate dream for education is "A day when every high school student in Maryland graduates with a modern technical skill and a year of college credit already earned," which he said at State of the State in Annapolis, M.D., January 2014.

On the Common Core: O'Malley agrees with the Common Core. According to USA Today, O'Malley spent time drafting ways to best transition into the standards in his time in Maryland office.

Lincoln Chafee

Former senator and governor of Rhode Island, Chafee views investment into education funding a big issue and priority which he took on in Rhode Island and would like to expand nationally.

On the Common Core: Chafee is in favor of both Common Core standards and heavy involvement of the federal government in regulating education standards.

"He has not announced a specific stance on the state-initiated Common Core standards, but Chafee supported President Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiative which was a move toward the Common Core," said PBS. org.

Jim Webb

Former Senator James Webb has three intentions for education: he wants to level the playing field by starting young learners early in pre-school education, he wants to fix the statistic that 25 percent of Americans do not graduate high school, and he wants to help eliminate student debt.

On the Common Core: Webb is against the Common Core. He has voted in favor of laws that prohibit the Common Core.

Robby Wells

On the Common Core: Wells is against the Common Core.

Joe Biden

Though Joe Biden has not formerly announced himself as a candidate, many anticipate that Biden will declare a presidential run soon. When it comes to education, Biden supports small class sizes and performance-based pay for teachers, a hot topic in education right now. In general, Biden supports better teacher pay to ensure better results in education reform.

Though Biden did indeed vote for No Child Left Behind, he recently said he regretted his vote and is on board to help lead the rewrite. He has consistently voted against school vouchers.

On the Common Core: He is in support of national education standards, which he began voting for in 1994. On the Common Core specifically, he has remained relatively mum on his stance.

The Republicans

Jeb Bush

Bush was former governor of Florida and claims much of his time in office was dedicated to improving Florida's education system. One of his biggest endeavors included increasing school choice by way of vouchers and charter schools. Bush supports Common Core standards but wants minimal influence of the federal government in public schools.

On the Common Core: Bush is perhaps the loudest voice in the race right now over support for Common Core standards. He supports using tests to measure student progress, too.

"[M]y dad would say it’s like–it’s an 'eat your broccoli' moment, where you actually–testing is part of life ... Measuring is not a bad thing. Now, if you have a whole system that’s organized around teaching to the test rather than teaching to standards, that’s where the problem exists. It’s not the test itself.

Though he called the name "Common Core" poisonous, he says he fully support a set of higher standards at a state and local level that pushes students to perform better academically. Despite backlash from his party, Bush says he refuses to walk away from something he knows works.

Scott Walker

Update: Dropped out of the race in September 2015.

On education, Walker is a big proponent of school voucher programs. As governor of Wisconsin, he most recently expanded the state's voucher program to allow for public school funding to pay for public school, including religious schools. He also expanded the number of authorizers on privately-run charter schools exempt to oversight from local school boards. Further, he made significant funding cuts to higher education this year, with $250 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin. He also eliminated the only program in the state set to further desegregation in public schools.

Recently, 35 Wisconsin principals sent a letter to Walker urging him to "stop hurting our schools." The principals accused Walker of being responsible of policies and budget cuts that directly impacted each's school negatively.

On the Common Core: Walker is against the Common Core. Like most of the Republican contenders besides Bush, Walker does not want the federal government to have control over how schools are funding, but rather wants that decision to come from local and state governments.

Said The Washington Post,

This is confusing since Common Core per se does not affect how and where money is coming from. It is Race to the Top that affords states money if they can show either through Common Core or other standards that they are setting high expectations for students. Wisconsin under Walker has been successful in collecting early education Race to the Top funds, and he has spoken favorably about use of the funds to further his education reforms.

Ted Cruz

Cruz is totally in favor of school choice and believes in children having many options for how to pursue education. As a result, he's very vocal about his support of homeschooling and charter schools.

On the Common Core: Cruz is against the Common Core and is in favor of totally repealing the standards.He voted against the standards in both 2013 and 2014

Rand Paul

Rand Paul is extreme on his views for the future of education. He would like to work on dissolving the Department of Education as a means to give total power back and funding to state and local governments when it comes to running public education. He wants more "innovation at the local level," and is therefore also a firm supporter of school choice.

On the Common Core: Paul is against the Common Core.

"It’s a hodgepodge of educational theories, bureaucratic group-think, massive data collection and pure secular statist propaganda. Worse yet, Common Core is being pushed on both sides of the aisle, including two high-profile members of my own party that may have eyes on the White House," he said.

Marco Rubio

Rubio, like Paul, has also gone on the record saying he would consider eliminating the Department of Education. Paul is also an opponent of local governments controlling education. Also, controversially, Rubio has said he believes evolution should be questioned in the science classroom—and that the possibility that creationism exists should be taught alongside it.

On the Common Core: Rubio is against the Common Core.

"...if you create some sort of national standard, even as a suggestion, it will turn into a mandate the federal government will force on our students and our local school boards and you’re going to end up with a national school board," he said.

Ben Carson

Carson wants to implement major change to the state of public school education by increasing school choice and giving more power to local control.

On the Common Core: Carson is against the Common Core. If elected, he would like to begin over-turning the influence of the standards, favoring—like his fellow Republican hopefuls—school choice and local control.

Carly Fiorina

Fiorina has expressed support of No Child Left Behind and the high standards that it outlined, but is also in favor of local control over federal involvement.

During The 74's Education Summit, Fiorina said one of her biggest issues with education is the lack of music, art, history and philosophy education. She wants the American people to understand that education is about more than preparing students for a career but is also about "feeding their soul."

She also expressed her support for school choice and voucher programs and hopes it will become a bipartisan issue.

When it comes to technology, Fiorina is in support of innovation and technology use but warns against it being used a silver bullet and not a tool. She believes the most important tool in the classroom is the teacher.

On the Common Core: Fiorina is against the Common Core. She has called the standards oppressive and says they limit parent's choice. She also supports school choice.

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee has called Obama's efforts in public education "lost at sea." He wants to restore power to local and state governments and emphasize school choice. He has said education is a family—not a federal—affair.

On the Common Core: Huckabee is against the Common Core.

"I ...oppose Common Core and believe we should abolish the federal department of education. We must kill Common Core and restore common sense," he said on his site.

Rick Santorum

Though he voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, he has since spoken out about federally-monitored education and is now a big opponent of the Department of Education. Santorum believes homeschooling is a good option for many children.

On the Common Core: Santorum is against the Common Core.

"We all know that our country’s public education system isn’t working, and we all want to improve opportunities for our children, but more government intervention is not the answer. Instead, parents, teachers, school districts, and local communities should be making the important decisions about education," he said. Eliminating these standards, he believes, is a step in fixing public education.

George Pataki

Pataki would like to see rigorous academic standards that vary state by state and are not controlled by the federal government. Pataki claims he is a significant force behind the massive presence of successful charter schools in New York, and would like to take on making this a national trend.

On the Common Core: Pataki is against the Common Core. This is not to say he would not favor some form of standards in education, but wants it to be controlled by state governments, as he also wants for standardized testing.

Lindsey Graham

A big focus of his views on education include promoting homeschooling, prayer in schools, and school choice. He, too, wants local control of education.

On the Common Core: Graham is against the Common Core. He believes the Obama administration's emphasis on the standards has taken education control from parents, teachers and the like.

Rick Perry

Update: Dropped out of the race in September 2015.

Rick Perry has many goals when it comes to improving education. Perry believes in standardized testing to determine student ability, and believes that increasing testing helps low-income children.

He has called for a stronger emphasis on STEM subjects. He has spoken out against teacher unions; on the subject of teachers, he wants stronger mentorship programs and incentives to keep teachers wanting to teach. He wants both evolution and creationism taught in science classrooms.

On the Common Core: Perry is against the Common Core. As governor of Texas, he oftentimes rejected federal funding because he felt standards in Texas public education were higher than Common Core standards.

"'...the Texas Legislature, the Texas School Boards, the Texas teachers, we collectively know best how to educate our children rather than some bureaucrat in Washington,'” Perry said, according to

Donald Trump

The billionaire, who would experience his first time in elected office if nominated president, would like to see the Department of Education cut down and he is a big supporter of local control of education.

He is against teacher unions, calling them "monopolies."

On the Common Core: Trump is against the Common Core. He has publicly criticized hopeful Jeb Bush's support of the standards.

Bobby Jindal

​Jindal has said he believes that "public education is a fundamental pillar of American democracy, but he has been criticized as Governor of Louisiana for controversial intended budget cuts that would cut off funding to the states higher education.

On the Common Core:Jindal is against the Common Core. He believes that Common Core standards are shroud in secrecy from parents and teachers, and that the more they learn the more they dislike. He is fully against the federal government being involved in local education. At one point, however,Jindal was in favor of implementing the standards and actually had to fight his own superintendent to try to halt their execution. He, as a result, has been labeled a flip-flopper on the subject.

John Kasich

​The Ohio Gov. John Kasich does not support teacher unions, a controversial component of his stance on education. He is also a big supporter of school choice and signed into law in 2011 Ohio's voucher program EdChoice that is annually increasing by the thousands.

He is a proponent of expanding and funding early education to help low-income and impoverished families and to level the opportunity playing field.

Kasich said during The 74's Education Summit a little about his state's third grade reading guarantee, a good example of his stance on education. As governor, he made a controversial decision to ensure that students who cannot read at the third grade level do not go onto fourth grade. He says his initiative offers support beginning in pre-k to help students read by third grade and that the results, despite initial opposition, have been overwhelmingly positive.

He also said during the Summitt that he is a proponent of mentoring kids of all ages, all incomes, and all cultures.

On the Common Core: Kasich supports the Common Core. A minority in the 2016 election's Republican primary, Kasich said earlier this year, "That is not something that Barack Obama is putting together. … It's local school boards developing local curriculum to meet higher standards. I cannot figure out what's wrong with that," according to

Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has declared it his mission to take on one of the most aggressive efforts to turn-around the state's under-performing urban schools, which has thus far been labeled as unsuccessful. It has been said to cause problems for parents and also have no impact on increasing test scores.

Most recently, he came under fire from New Jersey's largest teacher union, which is now calling for his resignation. Its call for resignation comes after Christie said the New Jersey Education Association deserves a punch in the face.

The exchange happened as such:

"During your first term as governor, you were fond of saying that you can treat bullies in one of two ways — quote — 'You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face.' You said, 'I like to punch them in the face.' At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?" [moderator] Tapper asked.

Christie responded: "Oh, the national teachers' union."

On the Common Core: Christie is against the Common Core. He wasn't always, however, and his change of heart has been deemed flip-flopping. He supported the adoption of the standards but now wants New Jersey to part ways, but has so far made no attempts to get rid of state exams tied to the standards, making his true position unclear.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about these candidates? Let us know.


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