Jeb Bush said during the New Hampshire GOP debate the United States should “get back to being a Tenth Amendment country,” one that “respects the states to be able to make more decisions,” including in the area of education.
“And in the Bush administration, we would shift transportation dollars back to the states…education dollars, back to the states,” he said on the debate stage. “I would like to see reform take place all across the country, where there’s more vouchers, more freedom.”
It was in March of last year that Bush–realizing his candidacy was in peril in part because of his strong advocacy for the unpopular federalized Common Core standards–began to “retrofit” the facts of Common Core to boost his conservative credentials.
“Given all the challenges facing education reform, we need to remember who really should make the decisions about what happens in our schools: state and local authorities and, most important, parents,” Bush wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
The federal government’s role in elementary and secondary education should be limited: It should work to create transparency so that parents can see how their local schools measure up; it should support policies that have a proven record; and it should make sure states can’t ignore students who need extra help.
Parents who have been fighting against the Common Core initiative, however, read his op-ed and were eager to respond.
“Jeb Bush’s piece in the Washington Post was really quite bizarre and an indicator of the fact that even he now realizes that his pro-Common Core stance will most definitely cost him the Republican nomination,” Indiana parent activist Heather Crossin told Breitbart News. “It’s a sign of desperation that the bulk of the article is an attempt to convince the reader that he actually believes in such things as local control of our schools, states’ rights, and parents as the ultimate decision makers of their children’s education.”
While Bush was writing his op-ed in favor of local control of schools, he was also advocating for the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The rewrite–called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)–requires–among other things–that the federal government approve of individual state academic standards.
“[T]he Obama administration has issued a patchwork of waivers and side deals, given out by fiat and without consistency,” Bush also wrote. “No wonder parents and state and local leaders question Washington’s motives when it comes to our schools.”
The “patchwork of waivers” was all part of the incentivization program of the Common Core initiative, which Bush supported wholeheartedly and urged states to adopt. States could obtain flexibility waivers from the federal government’s NCLB law if they adopted the set of college- and career-ready standards.
Bush supported the federally-funded test consortia that created assessments aligned with the controversial standards. States were also invited to submit applications for federal grant money from President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill (Race to the Top) if they agreed to adopt the standards and their associated policies, and Obama took credit for Common Core in State of the Union addresses.
Activist parents who have been fighting in their states as well as against the new federal education law will likely find it hard to view Jeb Bush as a “10th Amendment” president.
Bush also said during the debate he would like to see “more vouchers, more freedom.” A strong advocate for school choice, Bush chose to mention only school vouchers – the method of school choice that has been found to introduce the most regulation into private and religious schools. Since school vouchers involve a transfer of taxpayer funds from public schools to private and religious schools that agree to accept them, increased regulations usually travel with those funds. “More vouchers, more freedom” seem to be contradictory terms.