From Mark Caputo in POLITICO:
TALLAHASSEE — Bashing teacher unions and calling for more school choice, Jeb Bush gave one of his trademark wonkish policy speeches Tuesday that had one clear omission: “Common Core.”
The educational standards, which the likely Republican presidential candidate has advocated for years, have become increasingly controversial among some conservatives who fear they amount to federal overreach.
Is he trying to reframe the discussion about the term, Bush was asked by a reporter?
“No,” he responded after an educational summit that the former governor headlined here.
“I’ll talk about it,” Bush said. “What do you want to know about it?”
Was he toning down his rhetoric, considering how anathema Common Core is to some conservatives in Iowa, an early vote state?
“I’m for higher standards. And I’m for creating real restrictions of the federal government’s role in this,” Bush said.
Bush likes to have things both ways. He’s against federal control, except when it suits his agenda. In August 2011, Scathing Purple Musings reviewed another opinion piece Bush wrote in support of education secretary Arne Duncan’s waivers of individual state’s compliance with NCLB guidelines. Wrote Bush:
Some state leaders have responded to Washington’s inaction (On NCLB) by announcing they will ignore the law’s provisions. Others have simply lowered exam passing thresholds to technically – but shamefully – comply. Reductions of this sort are tragic, since many state standards are already too low.
Without reauthorization, Education Secretary Arne Duncan should use existing waiver authority to provide regulatory relief, so leading states can pass reforms that deliver results for students. States like Indiana, Florida and others provide a clear template.
Bush doubled down with this:
Some in Washington argue that these waivers permit the Executive Branch to legislate a congressional bill. The way to address this concern is to ensure that regulatory relief is only granted in exchange for advancing real reform. The states receiving this relief can help inform the education reauthorization process when it is taken up by Congress.
It’s clear that Bush was advocating for the education policies of states he favored. He specifically mentioned Florida and Indiana. At the time, both states were in the process of implementing Common Core Standards. Indiana has since discarded them while Florida “tweaked” them and deceptively renamed then Florida Standards.
Its clear that Bush is running away from Common Core. Hardly an act of a principled education reformer. Does he know that its all over and that he cannot get the nomination of his party if he continues his advocacy? Many people whose vote Bush needs have already dismissed Common Core as a bad idea and one which exerts even more federal control of schools than Bush is willing to admit. It’s fair to wonder how long it will be before they realize it’s not Bush’s only bad idea.