Bobby Jindal Nixes Common Core, Distances Himself from Jeb Bush
Around the State
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took a giant leap away from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush last week when he signed an executive order pulling the Southern state out of the national Common Core State Standards.
Jindal’s decision comes as a significant break from the policies of top Republicans like Bush, who have fully embraced Common Core as the answer to the country’s future in education.
Jindal was once a passionate supporter of Common Core during its inception. But as time elapsed, the opposition to Common Core has grown significantly. Expressing concerns over a nationalization of education, the Louisiana governor has done an about-face on the education standards.
Jindal’s decision to part ways with the national education standards could ultimately prove there’s poison in Common Core that might, little by little, hurt its most fervent supporters.
Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, who filed legislation to scrap Common Core in Florida, called Jindal’s withdrawal from Common Core a “bold decision” and one that could reverberate across the country.
“Gov. Jindal looks more and more like a candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2016,” she told Sunshine State News. “That means that in the next two years his vocal opposition to Common Core will ensure this issue will be a very active one nationally.”
Karen Effrem of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition agreed -- she told SSN this was only the beginning of a schism within the Republican Party.
“[Common Core] is going to continue to be a major issue for the party,” she said. “It is going to highlight the rift between grassroots conservatives ... and the corporate, elitist establishment represented by the Chamber of Commerce ... and Jeb Bush.”
In Jeb Bush’s home base of Florida, opposition to the standards has grown by leaps and bounds, especially among the diehard members of his party.
Over the last year, what once was seen by many as a small group of tea partiers has swelled into a statewide gathering of thousands of teachers, parents and members of the public who say Common Core is the wrong step for the future of education in the Sunshine State. Support for the standards is down significantly in polls, and opponents called upon elected officials for solutions.
Their pleas didn’t seem to fall entirely on deaf ears. Gov. Rick Scott responded to the growing voices by requiring public hearings on the standards, resulting in nearly 100 changes and a new rebrand of the standards. Florida opted out of the Common Core-aligned assessment test, PARCC, and instead decided to pursue testing through another company, the American Institutes for Research.
Little by little, Florida has taken steps away from the standards Bush has essentially championed as the best thing since sliced bread.
Prominent legislators in both the House and Senate began to speak out against Common Core, with Rep. Mayfield being perhaps one of the most vocal, if not the most vocal, against Common Core.
Jeb Bush and some top Republicans aren’t retreating from the standards, however. When asked about Gov. Jindal’s decision to pull out of Common Core, Gov. Scott’s office didn’t back down from the standards, saying Florida’s education system “has a lot to be proud of.”
“The State Board of Education has focused on creating the nation’s highest standards for Florida students so they can get a great job when they graduate,” said Scott spokesperson John Tupp. “Last year, the governor rejected federal overreach into Florida’s education system by withdrawing from PARCC.”
But to opponents of the standards like Mayfield, Florida hasn’t done enough.
“The reality is that Florida is still very much in Common Core,” she said. “We need to totally scrap Common Core and rewrite its state standards so that they're higher than Common Core and reflect all of what the best evidence and research says our students need to improve academic achievement and competitiveness.”
For the future of GOP politicians working overtime to seek re-election this year, like Scott, Common Core just might prove to be the tipping point for their much-needed Republican base.
“I think Gov. Scott can still become a major hero to the parents of the state,” said Karen Effrem. “[He could] just win this election running away if he would follow the example of Govs. Fallin, Haley and Jindal.”
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.