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Jeb Bush Walks Shaky Ground Over Common Core with GOP Competitors

August 7, 2015 - 6:00pm
Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush

Thursday night’s Republican debate on Fox News was illuminating in many respects -- viewers saw the voracity of Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions (when he said he would run for the position even as an independent candidate); Rand Paul and Chris Christie exchanged jabs over national security; and Jeb Bush -- who knew it was coming -- was forced to dip his toes into the controversial waters of Common Core.

As the debate went on, it almost appeared Bush would skate by without that tricky question on his national education standards position. Common Core has been the subject of intense GOP criticism in recent years.


But nearly an hour into the debate, up popped a question on CCSS. It was posed to Bush, one of the only active GOP candidates still supporting the standards.


"I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content," a tense Bush responded when asked about Common Core. "It is clearly a state responsibility."

Bush has generally held tight to the hand of Common Core, but it was evident Thursday that his position has put him in rough waters without a paddle among his GOP cohorts.


By neither condemning nor approving of the standards, Bush is attempting to reach a happy medium. He wasn’t necessarily giving up on the standards entirely, but instead decided to set up camp between one position and another.


The other position opposing CCSS was made loud and clear by another Florida politician vying for the presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio made no excuses for Common Core Thursday, leaping at the opportunity to lay into the standards.

So why does Rubio think Bush is wrong on Common Core?


"The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied,” Rubio said. “They will not stop with [Common Core] being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate."


Rubio’s response highlights a stark divide over Common Core in the Republican Party. Bush basically built Florida’s education system, lifted it out of the bottom quarter in the nation and while he was governor propelled it virtually to the top. While it’s not entirely perfect today, the state’s graduation rates have improved and the "A" to "F" school grade process has been lauded and adopted in many other states around the nation.

Bush’s legacy is evident. Without a question. But Bush’s foundation as an “education governor” doesn’t change the fact he’s one of the few (and the only one at his level) who still is onboard with the standards.


Most candidates have already flipped the script on Common Core, due to its growing unpopularity.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie backed out of the standards despite agreeing to adopt them with many other state governors in 2010. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also agreed to the standards during his first term as governor, but he, too, abandoned them.

Support for Common Core has also grown unpopular in Bush’s home state of Florida. Despite the state’s adoption of the standards, even the Florida Department of Education has taken many steps to distance itself from CCSS, tweaking then rebranding the standards under a different name.


Local groups have been quick to criticize Bush’s opinions on the standards, claiming he only started acting cordial with them once he put his name in the ring to become the GOP nominee.

“Jeb Bush called those who opposed Common Core ‘conspiracy theorists’ and only started respecting us when running for president,” wrote the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, one of Florida's leading voices against CCSS.


In 2013, Bush said conspiracy theories were “easy attention grabbers” and urged opponents of Common Core to come up with solutions. For years, they’ve been fighting tooth and nail to get the standards out of schools nationwide.


In the meantime, Bush teeters a fine line on what could potentially be his Achilles heel, knocking him out of the running when GOP voters head to the polls. While the former Florida governor might shy away from discussing Common Core directly, he made it clear there’s still more to accomplish to make the nation’s education system truly great.

“We spend more money on education than any country on Earth, save for a rounding error, but 30 percent of our kids graduate college or are career ready,” Bush said Thursday. “We have to do better.”



As an educator and parent and lifelong conservative who supports the more rigorous standards, I applaud Gov. Bush's stand to hold stusents and teachers accountable. His debate answer was completely consistent with his long held position.

Jeb's support of common core and open borders render him unfit to be the Republican nominee in 2016. I believe the pools that are now being taken are not polling LIKELY republican primary voters but republicans in general.

I admire perception in a "commenter" "Missy"!

The entire Republican Wing of the Republican Party are fed up with politicians. Rubio and Bush have failed the consistency test. When you fail that test, you can't be trusted. Trump popularity is because he flipped off the GOP. They fear him because of his "Leverage" and they know they cannot control him.

Even after FOX's Megan Kelly, Bret Baer, and the "Sunday Show Moron", pointedly "sandbagged" Trump at every opportunity,... I'll STILL vote for Trump if he makes it to the "top" of the flawed "pack". The entire world respects Trump,..while at the same time, the entire world is laughing at American politicians and their "puppet-master Obama". EVERYONE on both of those debate stages, Thursday night, would make acceptable Presidential "Cabinet members"...under the leadership of someone who actually could put America "back on track"...Donald Trump !

Right on target, C Breeze. They began that B.S. debate going right after Trump. I'm glad Trump easily held his ground and did so very well each time they asked him a curved ball question. With all that BS, he held strongly with the traits I'd want in my President. To hell with political correctness,

Mark, CBreeze Dems can only hope you are right and the Donald wins the repub nomination as it'll be Hillary at 70% of the vote.------------------------------------------------------------------------------- That someone like Trump can lead the party says how fiscally and morally bankrupt it has become.------------------------------------------------------------------------- That you don't see how Trump, a rich east coast liberal conman , is playing you easily fooled fools like a fiddle is just too funny.

So Rubio has done another 180 blowing in the wind. He use to be very for CC when he was brown nosing Bush . Let's remember it was repub governors that made CC, not the feds, Obama, now they all run from it. Now watch as Bush, the most real social conservative, won't win because of CC and his immigration stands.

...and Rubio was the "Speaker of the Florida House" under Bush...

It is a state's responsibility. A / The parent's.

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