Carly Fiorina on Education

Republican primary challenger and former CEO


School choice is the only way to fix education

We know what will not fix the broken education system: more federal control. We know Common Core is not the answer. Common Core has become simply another example of governmental overreach. We need to arm our students with 21st century skills, and you don't do that with big bureaucracy. Conservatives understand what it takes to fix our education system: giving every parent and student a choice and a chance. Let's make sure that every student has access to a school that gives them a fair shot.
Source: Iowa Republican 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 22, 2015

Common Core limits choices; vouchers allow choices

Q: Are we falling behind the world when it comes to education?

A: Our education system is in trouble, but demonstrably, giving more money to the Department of Education, as we have been doing for almost 40 years, doesn't improve the state of education. Common Core has become a nationally driven set of bureaucratic standards that teach teachers how to teach, that teach children how to learn, and what we need is to provide more parental choice so that our kids anywhere they live have a real chance, and Common Core doesn't help us do that.

Q: So what should be done?

A: We know that the most important thing about a child's education is to have a great teacher in front of the classroom and a lot of choice and accountability with parents, whether that's at home or with vouchers or charters or parochial schools. And Common Core, unfortunately, limits parents' choices. It limits the creativity a teacher can apply in the classroom. So, it will over time limit our children's chances.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 31, 2015

Opposes Common Core; shrink Dept. of Education

Source: Fordham Institute EduWatch 2016 by Brandon White , May 5, 2015

Supports competition and accountability in schools

Source: Fordham Institute EduWatch 2016 by Brandon White , May 5, 2015

Supports No Child Left Behind & Race to the Top

In a position paper while running for the U.S. Senate in California, Fiorina strongly advocated for metric-based accountability in schools. She praised No Child Left Behind as setting high standards and Race to the Top for using internationally-benchmarked measures. Fiorina also said that the ethnic achievement gap remains a problem but did not offer further specifics. In general she has spoken in favor of as much local control and input in education as possible.
Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , May 4, 2015

Make sure that every parent has a choice

You know one of the things this president loves to do is to distract us so I think he is trying to distract us from the fact that we have too many failing high schools in this country by offering community college for free. If we want to educate our children let us make sure that every parent has a choice and a chance to educate their children so that they can fulfill their potential.
Source: Forbes Magazine on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Mar 24, 2015

Synthesis of public school system and competitive vouchers

In education, the polarizing debate is about vouchers versus public schools. It's about "teaching to the test" versus "teaching that nourishes hearts and souls." It's about squeezing history and music and philosophy out of the curricula in order to make room for math and science and reading in the quest for test scores and future funding.

Let me tackle just one dimension of the debate: The private versus public school debate--free access for all versus a free-market voucher-driven system. The thesis on the table is: Keep the system the way it is--a vast system of public schools, some with strong performance, but many that are able to achieve only the lowest common denominator. The antithesis: Let competition reign, give all students vouchers, and let the strongest schools prosper--and the weakest ones perish.

Perhaps the synthesis would be far more than just a compromise--it allows us to build on the best of what we have, but instills new responsibility and accountability to the system as well.

Source: Forbes Magazine "2016 Candidates Want You to Know" series , Mar 24, 2015

Education crisis:we're behind on teaching skills & character

In 1989, I wrote a master's thesis at MIT entitled "The Education Crisis: Business and Government's Role in Reform." I argued that our education system is failing our nation: we are falling behind in teaching competitive skills and increasingly ignoring those subjects that are fundamental to character. The education crisis has deepened since 1989 across every dimension, but still, as a nation, we have not yet harnessed the collective will or sense of urgency to address it. Our competitiveness as a nation requires us to understand the bigger world, and prepare our children's hearts and minds to lead.
Source: Forbes Magazine 2016 series:"Tough Choices" by Carly Fiorina , Mar 24, 2015

Dropped out of UCLA Law School at age 22

I went to UCLA Law School without enthusiasm, and from the very first day it left me cold. I found the focus on precedent confining. What about creating something new? The decisions that were hailed as brilliant frequently had, to my way of thinking, nothing to do with justice and everything to do with legal constraints predetermined by other case law. Although I could respect the law, I felt no passion for it. I had terrible headaches every day and barely slept for months.

I came home one weekend to visit. I was in turmoil. As dramatic as it sounds, I had found an epiphany while taking a shower on Sunday morning. My body had been trying to tell me something with all those months of headaches. I suddenly realized I had no idea why I was in law school at all.

At 22, it finally dawned on me that my life couldn't be about pleasing my parents. My life was my own. I could do what I wanted. My headache disappeared. I got out of the shower and prepared to disappoint my parents.

Source: Tough Choices, by Carly Fiorina, p. 14 , Sep 25, 2007

To truly understand something, explain it to someone else

On January 1, 1989, the vaunted Bell system would be spilt apart. The regional telephone companies would become the Baby Bells and be responsible for local telephone service. AT&T would become AT&T Long Lines.

It was a very complicated solution to a complex problem: how to accelerate innovation and create sufficient competition in a vital industry while at the same time maintaining the existing quality of universal services that the entire country relied upon. I'd spent a great deal of time during 1983 explaining to our customers how this would actually work, from a technological, billing and regulatory perspective.

I spent enough time learning it myself and then explaining it to others that I really understood where the problems were going to be. In the process I'd learned what really good teachers know: if you want to truly understand something, try explaining it to someone else.

Source: Tough Choices, by Carly Fiorina, p. 46-7 , Sep 25, 2007

Supports less federal & more local control of education.

Fiorina supports the F2A survey question on education

Faith2Action.org is "the nation's largest network of pro-family groups." They provide election resources for each state, including Voter Guides and Congressional Scorecards excerpted here. The Faith2Action survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: 'Less federal and more state / local control of education'

Source: Faith2Action Survey 10-FF-q7 on Sep 19, 2010

Other candidates on Education: Carly Fiorina on other issues:
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Page last updated: Sep 27, 2018