Jeb Bush Not Backing Away From Common Core

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Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 08:13 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains a major supporter of the nationwide education standards known as Common Core despite Republican criticism.

The GOP mostly favored Common Core standards when they were released four years ago, with the vast majority of states signing on to participate. Common Core establishes standards in English language arts and math for K-12 students.

But when President Barack Obama tied federal election grants to states’ adopting the standards, many conservatives changed their tune, arguing it’s the states’ place – not the federal government's – to decide local education standards, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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Bush, a two-term Republican governor, has supported measuring academic standards for the past two decades, according to The Wall Street Journal. He has said he will not accept an America that is "dumbing down its standards and expectations."

His nonprofit Foundation for Excellence in Education has backed Common Core and received millions in grants from organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and education industry companies including Pearson PLC and News Corp.'s Amplify, both of which have contracts related to implementing Common Core, according to the Journal.

Political pundits say Bush’s unwavering support for Common Core is a political liability, especially in the increasingly divided Republican Party. Though Bush has not announced a decision, he is widely thought to be a contender in the 2016 presidential race.

Others likely to seek the Republican nomination – Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum – have derided Common Core standards, the Journal said.

Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who may also be eying a 2016 presidential bid, was an ardent supporter of Common Core until recently, when he compared it to "Russian centralized planning," the Journal said.

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution condemning Common Core as "an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children," U.S. News reported.

"It substitutes an unaccountable federal bureaucracy for state, local, and parental decision-making in education," Jim DeMint, a former senator who is president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the Journal. "Parents are tired of the failures and excuses from Washington."

In March, The Miami Herald reported that Bush touted Common Core at a Florida business breakfast, standing firm in his support and criticizing America for caring more about children’s self-esteem than about their ability to compete globally.

"Let me tell you something. In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self-esteem. They care about math, whether they can read – in English – whether they understand why science is important, whether they have the grit and determination to be successful," Bush said.

"You tell me which society is going to be the winner in this 21st century: The one that worries about how they feel, or the one that worries about making sure the next generation has the capacity to eat everybody’s lunch?"

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, also a supporter, told the Journal that Bush will not cave to political pressure.

"Jeb is not going to pander, and I think people would rather you level with them," he said.

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