By Peter Elkind
December 23, 2015

Illustration by Arian Behzadi; Original Photos, Christie: Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images; Cruz: Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images; Bush: Charles Ommanney—The Washington Post/Getty Images; Trump: Scott Olson—Getty Images; Fiorina: Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images; Huckabee: Joe Raedle—Getty Images; Carson: Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Numerous politicians—particularly Republicans—have executed breathtaking reversals in their positions on Common Core as the political head over the education standards intensified. To see how the conflict has played out, read Business Gets Schooled.


Chris Christie

Yes! “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey, and we’re going to continue … I think that part of the Republican opposition … is a knee-jerk reaction … that if the President likes something, then the Republicans in Congress don’t.” —August 2013, at an education conference, Las Vegas

No! “We must reject federal control of our education and return it to parents and teachers. We need to take it out of the cubicles of Washington, D.C., where it was placed by the Obama administration, and return it to the neighborhoods of New Jersey.” —May 28, 2015, speech at Burlington County College, N.J.


Jeb Bush

Yes! “Because people have a different view of what Common Core is, am I supposed to back away from something that I know works?” —May 2015, Nashville

Er, I think so: “The term ‘Common Core’ is so darn poisonous, I don’t even know what it means. I’m for higher standards—state created, locally implemented—where the federal government has no role in the … content or curriculum.” —Aug. 14, 2015, Iowa


Carly Fiorina

Yes! “Internationally benchmarked standards and assessments help ensure our students graduate high school prepared with the skills necessary to succeed in the our 21st-century economy.” —November 2009, “Carly on Education,” position statement for senatorial campaign

No! “I think Common Core is a really bad idea. It is a giant bureaucratic program, and we have demonstrated over 40 years that the Department of Education can get bigger and bigger and bigger, and the quality of education continues to deteriorate.” —May 6, 2015, CNBC interview


Mike Huckabee

Yes! “Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.” —November 2013 speech, Council of Chief State School Officers

No! “We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.” —2015, Huckabee campaign website


Steadily in favor: Hillary Clinton, John Kasich

No clear position: Bernie Sanders

Always opposed: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Donald Trump


A version of this article appears in the January 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “The Flip-floppers and the Wafflers.”

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