But that flies in the face of the conventional wisdom about her recent surge in the polls. Ostensibly, she showed she was a serious candidate in the first Republican debate, demonstrating a command of policy that impressed voters. But her appearance with Brown actually displayed the opposite: Fiorina doesn't much care if she can back up her facts of not, so long as they help her score political points.
"It’s why the head of the teachers union in Chicago, when they struck, against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, it’s why she could say: 'We can’t be held accountable for the performance of students in our classrooms because too many of them are poor and come from broken families.' So what was she saying? If you’re poor and come from a broken family we can’t teach you because you can’t learn. That is not the American way."That's from her interview with Brown; Karen Lewis is the union leader Fiorina is referring to. It's a damning accusation, especially considering Lewis is a teacher herself, with many years of experience in the Chicago Public Schools chemistry labs.
I thought it was worth asking Lewis what she thought of this attack. As usual, she minced no words:
"It's a lie. I never said that, but Fiorina has used that tired trope repeatedly. What I said was the VAM portion did not take into consideration the condition of our students' lives.”VAM stands for Value-Added Modeling, the test-based component of the Chicago teacher evaluation system. Lewis has good company: the American Statistical Association has strongly questioned the use of VAM, stating: "Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality."
Maybe Fiorina thinks the ASA also doesn't believe in "the American way."
I have searched for any primary source that documents Lewis saying that Chicago's teachers shouldn't be held accountable for their students' learning. So far, I've found nothing. Here's CTU's official position on test-based evaluation:
What's funny is that Fiorina herself thinks testing companies have too much influence over American education. So, does she agree with Lewis that VAM is a pernicious influence, or doesn't she?
I've contacted Fiorina's campaign to ask for a link to a source that backs up her attack on Lewis. So far, no response. I guess that's "the American way" these days...
If and when I hear from Fiorina's people, I'll update this post.
Is misquoting teachers "the American way"?