Carly Fiorina on Wednesday criticized the federal education policies of the past decade, taking a markedly different position on the issue than the one she put forth during her 2010 senate campaign in California.
In an interview with KXNT 840 Las Vegas, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said that she would "return as much responsibility as absolutely possible" from the Department of Education to the states.
"No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, Common Core — they're all big, bureaucratic programs that are failing our nation," said Fiorina. "Talk about an issue when the professional political class, of both parties, has failed us."
The issues page for Fiorina's failed 2010 senate campaign, however, links to one-page white paper entitled "Carly on Education." There, she offers praise for both George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law, and the Race to the Top program passed under President Obama.
"President Obama's Race to the Top program puts into place some critically important accountability measures that Carly believes will help improve our education system," the paper declares.
"Internationally benchmarked standards and assessments help ensure our students graduate high school prepared with the skills necessary to succeed in our 21st century economy," the paper continues. It goes on to praise Race to the Top for its "robust data systems," and its efforts toward "recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers and principals" and "turning around our lowest-performing schools."
The paper likewise praises No Child Left Behind, which it says "helped us set high standards for our students," although "thousands of students in California and across the nation still fall through the cracks and drop out of school."
In June, BuzzFeed News reported that Fiorina's 1989 Masters' thesis – also available on her 2010 campaign site – argued for a "consistent, long-term role" federal role in education, including potentially developing "curriculum 'guidelines' for consideration by local school districts and state legislatures."
"The Department of Education, under both Reagan and Bush, has shied away from standards development, fearing a political outcry against the usurpation of states' authority," wrote Fiorina. "I believe these essentially partisan arguments forfeit our children's education for all the wrong reasons."
However, Fiorina also argued that such "recommendations could be shaped to fit the particular needs of the community," and "disseminated guidelines could recommend the continued need for autonomy, control and accountability at the school level."
"Carly has always believed that we need accountability in our schools because we need to understand how our students are doing," a spokeswoman for the Fiorina campaign told BuzzFeed News. "Unfortunately, the government programs that had the worthy goals of increasing accountability and transparency have not lived up to their promises."
"Common Core has become a set of standards not on what a student has to learn but instead on how a teacher has to teach and how a student should learn," she continued. "When Race to the Top was proposed, it was based on real performance metrics and opposed by the teachers' unions. It turned out to be a tool for the administration to push its ideology on parents, students, and communities."