Jeb Bush Defends Common Core and Auditions as the GOP’s Education Candidate

The former Florida governor, who is still debating a presidential run, seems to be testing an education-themed stump speech.

Nov. 20, 2014, 5:18 a.m.

Jeb Bush on Thursday called the de­bate over edu­ca­tion stand­ards “a really, really good fight” for Re­pub­lic­ans to have—and then threw a few punches at his polit­ic­al op­pon­ents.

Speak­ing in Wash­ing­ton at the an­nu­al con­fer­ence of the Found­a­tion for Ex­cel­lence in Edu­ca­tion Re­form, a group he foun­ded in 2008, Bush ag­gress­ively de­fen­ded the Com­mon Core State Stand­ards that have be­come an ideo­lo­gic­al flash point with­in the GOP.

“There is no ques­tion we need high­er aca­dem­ic stand­ards,” said Bush, the former Flor­ida gov­ernor. “And at the loc­al level … the rig­or of the Com­mon Core state stand­ards must be the new min­im­um in classrooms.”

Bush ac­know­ledged, to some audi­ence laughter, that he “might be in the minor­ity” with his views on edu­ca­tion.

Com­mon Core is a set of na­tion­al stand­ards—which Bush was con­sul­ted on and has sup­por­ted since its in­cep­tion—that de­term­ine what level of pro­fi­ciency stu­dents must at­tain each year in key sub­jects. It has stirred a firestorm of op­pos­i­tion from con­ser­vat­ive act­iv­ists who view the pro­gram as an in­tru­sion of big gov­ern­ment in­to loc­al classrooms.

Bush called the de­bate over Com­mon Core “troub­ling,” but he was care­ful not to de­mon­ize op­pon­ents. “I re­spect those who weigh in on all sides of this is­sue.” Bush said. “Nobody in this de­bate has a bad motive…. Even if we don’t all agree on Com­mon Core, there are many prin­ciples we can agree on.”

Still, he is­sued a warn­ing to gov­ernors—in­clud­ing some po­ten­tial rivals for the 2016 GOP pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion—who have spoken out against the Com­mon Core stand­ards.

“For those states that are choos­ing a path oth­er than Com­mon Core, I say this: That’s fine. Ex­cept you should be aim­ing even high­er and be­ing bolder and rais­ing stand­ards to ask more from our stu­dents.”

Bush offered his re­marks in­side a D.C. hotel ball­room, as a po­lite group of sup­port­ers ate quietly from a break­fast buf­fet at white-cloth-clad tables. His 20-minute speech was not slowed by any in­ter­rup­tion of ap­plause from the audi­ence.

Bey­ond speak­ing dir­ectly to Com­mon Core, Bush also de­livered a sting­ing ap­prais­al of the pub­lic-edu­ca­tion sys­tem. He said or­gan­ized labor and oth­er en­trenched polit­ic­al in­terests have stifled in­nov­a­tion and ex­per­i­ment­a­tion that is needed to trans­form Amer­ica’s strug­gling schools.

“It starts with a ba­sic ques­tion: If we were design­ing our school sys­tems from scratch, what would they look like? I know one thing. We wouldn’t start with more than 13,000 gov­ern­ment-run, uni­on­ized, politi­cized, mono­pol­ies who trap good teach­ers, ad­min­is­trat­ors, and strug­gling stu­dents in a sys­tem that nobody can es­cape.”

“It would be in­sane” to re-cre­ate such a sys­tem, he ar­gued.

Bush also took the op­por­tun­ity to tout Flor­ida’s im­proved edu­ca­tion sys­tem, cred­it­ing a series of re­forms he im­ple­men­ted nearly a dec­ade ago. Today, he said, Flor­ida is “a na­tion­al lead­er” in school per­form­ance and in lev­el­ing the play­ing field between high- and low-in­come stu­dents.

The former gov­ernor, who is weigh­ing a pres­id­en­tial run in 2016, seemed at times to be re­hears­ing an as­pir­a­tion­al, edu­ca­tion-themed stump speech. He said qual­ity edu­ca­tion is “the great equal­izer” for low-in­come chil­dren and called the lim­ited ac­cess to such op­por­tun­it­ies “a civil-rights crisis.”

In keep­ing with that theme, Bush was in­tro­duced by Den­isha Mer­ri­weath­er, an Afric­an-Amer­ic­an wo­man from Jack­son­ville who be­came the first in her fam­ily to gradu­ate from col­lege.

“There are lit­er­ally mil­lions of Den­ishas wait­ing out there to be helped. Wait­ing for us. Wait­ing for us to push through policies to give them a choice,” Bush said. “That’s what they want—a choice and a chance. They’ll take care of the rest.”

This story was up­dated to cla­ri­fy Bush’s role in the cre­ation of Com­mon Core.

What We're Following See More »
BREAKING WITH THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AFTER TRUMP INSULTED THE SENATOR
McCain Family to Endorse Biden
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"The late Sen. John McCain's family plans to support former Vice President Joe Biden's White House bid, backing the Democrat not only in his party's crowded primary race but also in a general election matchup with President Trump, the Washington Examiner has learned. In an extraordinary snub to Trump, who derided McCain's Vietnam War service and mocked him even after his death last August at age 81, the McCain family is preparing to break with the Republican Party. McCain represented the party in Congress for 35 years and was chosen as its presidential nominee in 2008, losing to Barack Obama."

Source:
CALLS CONGRESS "VERY PARTISAN"
Trump Opposes White House Aides Giving Congressional Testimony
12 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the special counsel report, intensifying a power struggle between his administration and House Democrats. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference and the president’s own conduct in office."

Source:
WANTS IT BY MAY 1
Nadler Subpoenas Unredacted Report
5 days ago
THE LATEST
ONLY TWO ARE KNOWN
Mueller Made 14 Criminal Referrals
6 days ago
THE LATEST
POSTED ONLINE
The Report Is Here
6 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login