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Common Core Could Be Jeb Bush's Achilles Heel

December 18, 2014 - 6:00pm

Jeb Bushs announcement that he was considering running for president caused waves in the political community -- but his announcement also brought attention to his support for the Common Core State Standards, which have caused their fair share of controversy in the Sunshine State.

Bushs support for the standards has been fervent -- he played an important role in the creation of the standards and has stood by them perhaps more than any other conservative. But his support for CCSS also poses a problem for Bush -- one that very well may follow him in the 2016 GOP primary.

Bush drew criticism for his support of the standards from his fellow conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said the former Florida governors run for president would be very difficult given his support for the standards.

If youre going to be for a national curriculum and for Common Core and for No Child Left Behind, this accumulation of power in Washington, thats not very popular," said Paul. Its going to be overcoming if he thinks he can win the primary.

In Florida, anti-Common Core groups reacted to the news -- and most werent too shocked by the prospect of Bush running for office.

This is not a surprise to us, said Laura Zorc of Florida Parents Against Common Core. Hes not favorable among the anti-Common Core people at all.

Dr. Karen Effrem of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition said Bushs announcement didnt incite a lot of excitement because Bush has serious flaws regarding Common Core.

Were not too excited about him running for president because of his major support for Common Core, which hes not backing off of and his familys legacy of increasing the federal footprint ... and federal control over education, she told Sunshine State News.

Common Core is one of the most hotly contested issues among conservatives -- several national politicians who once pledged their support for the standards (like Bobby Jindal) changed their tunes and vowed to remove them from their states.

Zorc told SSN that she didnt see Common Core being as big an issue for Bush in other states as it is in Florida, however.

The Florida anti-Common Core movement is really strong against Jeb Bush, she explained. But when you go into other states, I dont see it as strongly against Jeb Bush. We live in this anti-Common Core bubble where we think that everybody dislikes Jeb Bush because of Common Core, but in reality its not that way.

But Effrem disagreed, saying shes heard of opposition against Bush in other states as well.

Absolutely not, she said when asked if Bush would only see problems in Florida. Im in touch with anti-Common Core groups across the country and no one wants him to be president.

Both agreed, however, that the issue would probably be problematic for Bush in the primary.

Hes going to have trouble in the primary. Hes going to have the support if he makes it through the primary and becomes the nominee. Its not going to be a one-issue election.

Bush was heavily involved in the reform of Floridas own education system -- under his governorship, the state adopted the "A" to "F" grading system, and high school graduation rates, which were among some of the lowest in the country, steadily improved.

While the 2016 presidential election might not hone around one issue, Bushs own hand in education will undoubtedly play a role in his potential bid for president.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen via email atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

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