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Hillary Clinton focuses on Sandy aid, Common Core issues

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on April 11,

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on April 11, 2016 called the Common Core curriculum's implementation a "disaster." Credit: Newsday / Arnold Miller

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed issues of concern to Long Island voters Monday, describing the roll out of the Common Core education standards as “disastrous” and pledging to remedy what she called “inadequacies” with the federal response to aid homeowners ravaged by superstorm Sandy.

Told by Newsday’s editorial board of the frustration among Long Islanders who are still fighting for reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Clinton said “the whole emergency response . . . needs a hard look.”

“I think that the failures associated with both [Hurricane] Katrina and superstorm Sandy point out that there are inadequacies in the law and in the way the law is carried out.

“As president, I will do everything I can to remedy that moving forward,” Clinton said, saying the response falls short because there are “big gaps in the law about what can be reimbursed at what level, and there is too much bureaucracy and too much regulatory red tape.”

In a nearly hourlong question-and-answer session at Newsday’s Melville headquarters, Clinton said she continues to support the idea of a uniform national education standard.

She noted that Common Core started off as a nonpartisan effort that was endorsed by the majority of state governors, but she said its implementation is what likely led to the widespread frustration among parents and teachers.

“I think the roll out was disastrous . . . the expectation that you could turn on a dime,” Clinton said of the program’s failures. She said some states did not adequately train teachers on using the new curriculum, or did not have materials lined up for students when Common Core was rolled out.

Last week more than 97,500 Long Island students opted out of taking state standardized tests.

Clinton said she supported such tests if states “Do it right.”

Asked if teacher evaluations should be tied to student performance on such tests, Clinton said “Right now, I’d have to say no,” given all the questions surrounding Common Core.

On other questions, Clinton:

  • Toed a line between defending the intent and some of the results of a 1994 crime law passed during her husband’s administration — when “we had a serious, lethal crime problem in America” — while acknowledging that excessive punishment, and the unjustified use of force fell disproportionately on blacks and Latinos. The proliferation of cellphone video is recent years, she said, has been an eye-opener for America.

“The police are not always wrong and they are not always right. And we now can see that,” Clinton said.

  • Acknowledged that despite improvements in the economy since the 2008 collapse, “the overhang from the Great Recession is still so dominant in people’s consciousness” and a lot of the jobs that have been created are “not as good.”

She said that her program would bring economic growth and rising incomes, and that it’s a president’s job to “convey optimism and confidence and create a kind of alternative narrative that slowly over time more people can buy into.”

  • She said that as a woman, she would govern differently as president because women bring “our own, different sets of experiences and an “openness to different kinds of solutions.”

“I want to demonstrate what difference it makes to have a woman president,” she said.

The next two points were in response to questions from Newsday reporters.

  • Clinton remained adamant that there would be no charges against her resulting from the FBI and Justice Department investigation into her use of a personal email server while secretary of state. “There will not be any of sort of action,” she said. “It is a security inquiry that happens frequently.”
  • Asked how she would respond to voters who say they are supporting outsiders Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders because they are disenchanted by “establishment” politicians they view as corrupt, Clinton said she was “the most tested and vetted” of all the presidential candidates. She said when “I’m in office people approve of the job I’m doing,” citing her victory margins in New York, where she was twice elected to the U.S. Senate.

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