Former Florida Gov. and newly-announced GOP primary candidate Jeb Bush shouldn’t expect cheers, sunshine and roses when he comes to Tampa Friday for the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s dinner.
Anti-Common Core protesters will make sure of that -- they’re planning to descend on TPepin's Hospitality Centre, 200-strong, to protest the standards, letting state and local lawmakers -- and Bush -- know Common Core isn’t a winning issue.
“What prompted us to go ahead with this [rally] at this time ... is that there will be a lot of state legislators and one of the presidential candidates and a lot of local political figures [there,]” said Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council, a group participating in the protest.
Kemple’s group will be one of several anti-Common Core groups hitting Tampa to protest the national education standards, which have caught Florida -- and the nation -- in a controversial storm. They’ll be led by the Researching American Education Group, a Hillsborough County-centered group focusing on the pitfalls of the Common Core State Standards.
“We really want to make sure that elected officials ... all political leaders and candidates at all levels ... are aware that this is an issue that has really raised a tremendous grassroots pushback -- and the pushback is from both sides of the aisle,” said Kemple.
Of course former Gov. Bush isn’t the only reason the groups will be protesting -- but it’s a perk he’ll be in town to hear the groups’ message.
Bush, a nationally-renowned figure for education reform, has been fairly committed to Common Core. He’s undoubtedly the highest profile GOP primary candidate to be onboard with the standards, which he has repeatedly said are higher and work effectively.
But when Bush announced his candidacy this week, Common Core opponents took notice.
“If you look at some of the things Jeb said in his announcement ... about local control and school choice, those are things that are almost antithetical to Common Core,” said Kemple. “It could be that he is shifting on the issue.”
Common Core opponents said they wouldn’t hone in on Bush in particular, however, but instead would keep their message focused on what they see as a dangerous set of standards being implemented in Florida and nationwide.
Opponents see the standards as a federal invasion in education, often criticizing them for being subpar and for promoting “anti-God” agendas to students.
“We’re trying to get ... people to open their eyes and see the problems that are inherent in the whole thing,” said Kemple.
The rally will take place before the Hillsborough County Republican Party dinner at 5:30 p.m. To read more about event details, click here.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen