Jeb Bush Praises Mary Fallin Even as She Backs Away from Common Core Support
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With buzz about a 2016 presidential bid building, former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., joined Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., and praised her work on education this week even as she starts to back off her support of Common Core standards.
On Tuesday, Bush and Fallin toured the KIPP Reach College Prep School, a charter middle school in Oklahoma City aimed toward low-income students. The school has garnered national applause for its 98 percent graduation rate -- 20 percent above the national average -- and for its strong college prep course selection.
“I believe every child can learn, regardless of where they started in life or what challenges they are facing,” said Fallin. “Oklahoma has great teachers who work hard and believe in what they are doing. As a state, we are working to empower those teachers and give them the tools they need to make the greatest impact in the lives of our children.
“KIPP Reach is an example of a school that has thrived despite facing a lot of obstacles,” Fallin added. “It was exciting to meet with teachers and students to discuss what they are doing to overcome these obstacles and consistently achieve great results.”
Bush had kind words for both KIPP Reach, which operates more than 140 schools across the nation, and for Fallin.
“KIPP Reach is known for its great teachers, its ‘no excuses’ attitude, and its command focus on students’ learning,” said Bush. “Oklahoma has been a national leader in reform and as a result thousands of low-income students now have an opportunity to access high-quality schools like KIPP Reach. I applaud Gov. Fallin for her support, and state leaders and teachers for their ongoing commitment to implement bold reforms that foster choice, accountability, and high expectations in education.”
The chairwoman of the National Governors Association, Fallin has been a supporter of Common Core standards. In her State of the State address back in January, Fallin praised Common Core, insisting the standards would help students prepare for college and be competitive in the changing economy.
Looking to blunt conservative attacks that Common Core allowed more federal control of education, Fallin also issued an executive order at the end of last year looking to ensure education remained controlled by the state and local governments. Fallin returned to that theme in her State of the State.
"Common Core is not a federal program," Fallin said. "It is driven and implemented by those states that choose to participate. It is also not a federal curriculum; in fact, it's not a curriculum at all. Local educators and school districts will still design the best lesson plans, will chose appropriate textbooks, and will drive classroom learning."
But Fallin has backed off her support in recent weeks and it is expected that she will support efforts in the Oklahoma Legislature to get Common Core out of the Sooner State. The Oklahoma House has aggressively passed anti-Common Core legislation and the Senate is slowly starting to come in the same direction as anti-Common Core bills maneuver through the committee process.
Bush has focused on education since leaving Tallahassee after facing term limits in 2006. Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, Bush defended school choice and doubled down on his support of Common Core.
“If people don’t recognize that dumbed-down standards are going to yield the same results that we’ve had, then we’re really missing the chance to move forward as a country,” Bush said.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.