Common Core Could Be Jeb's Achilles' Heel in 2016

Image: Common Core Could Be Jeb's Achilles' Heel in 2016

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 10:46 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Jeb Bush's support for Common Core national education standards could be a drag on a presidential bid by the former Florida governor, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Many conservative and tea party Republicans — even those who once supported it — oppose Common Core, designed to standardize what’s taught in classrooms around the country and ensure high school graduates are prepared to enter college.

Every state except for Texas, Virginia, Indiana, Nebraska, and Alaska have adopted the standards, though some just for English language arts, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Bush's critics — such as conservative commentator Michelle Malkin — allege that the former governor’s support of the initiative has more to do with corporate self-interest than believing in the principles, according to the Times.

Malkin points to Bush’s ties via his Foundation for Excellence in Education to education companies which stand to benefit financially from Common Core. Among them are Amplify, a division of News Corp. Amplify’s CEO, former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, sits on the Bush foundation board, according to the Times. Bush’s foundation has also received millions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pearson, a "for-profit education giant."

Foundation for Excellence in Education spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof told the Times that critics’ accusations are unfounded, saying that "organizations that support the foundation do so because they support our agenda, not the other way around."

Governors, state school officials, and education experts created their respective Common Core curricula, according to the Times. States receive "federal incentives" for participating.

Bush stands firm in his support of Common Core.

"In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self-esteem," Bush told the Miami Herald in March. "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.

"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?"

An analysis by FiveThirtyEight statistician Nate Silver found that the effects of a Common Core backlash on a Bush presidential bid may be overstated.

"The universe where the Common Core is a big problem for Bush is one where he had no chance to begin with," Silver wrote. "In most other universes, Bush’s support of the Common Core should be somewhere between benign and modestly helpful for him."

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