During the GOP debate Thursday night, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – who has individually and through his foundations been a champion of the federally funded Common Core standards – said he doesn’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of education standards.
Bush has been distancing himself from the highly unpopular and controversial Common Core as his campaign has progressed. When asked about his views on the education reform, he said, “I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content. It is clearly a state responsibility. I’m for higher standards…”
However, Bush went on to say, “And if states want to opt out of Common Core, fine. Just make sure your standards are high.”
Bush’s statement will spark the ire of Common Core opponents for at least two reasons. First, the education reform is federally funded and promoted by the Obama administration, as evidenced by former senior advisor to President Obama Dan Pfeiffer’s tweet:
When I worked in the White House, we were always grateful to @JebBush for his efforts to help us urge states to adopt Common Core
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 7, 2015
For Bush to simultaneously endorse Common Core and say he does not believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards is an inconsistency of the highest level.
Second, Bush’s statement that it’s fine to opt out of Common Core, but “make sure your standards are high” strongly suggests he doesn’t abide by what it means for states to control education and that he has a certain level of “rigor” in mind that all states should meet. The idea of states having control of education – or anything for that matter – means just that: states decide and also deal with the consequences of their decisions.
Bush touted his support for school choice and vouchers during his tenure as governor of Florida. Though vouchers are a means for creating more school choice, they are often considered the least likely method for bringing about true parental choice of education for children since, in some states expanding voucher systems, private and religious schools that opt to accept vouchers must also submit to higher levels of state control. Conservative and libertarian groups often consider education savings accounts and tax credit scholarships as more favorable means to bring about school choice.