In GOP Debate Jeb Bush Continues Deceptive Statements on Common Core & FedEd While Rubio Clearly Opposes Federal Instrusion

August, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

The highly anticipated and widely watched Fox News GOP primary debate contained one major exchange on Common Core that occurred between two of the top-tier presidential candidates from Florida, former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio.  There is a transcript available and here is the video:

Bush's responses on this critical issue continue to be problematic from several perspectives.  First, while it is nice that he said that he did not agree with US Secretary Arne Duncan's statement that the opposition to Common Core is mostly from a "fringe group of critics," that is a fairly recent change from his venomous attacks against parents and teachers that disagree with him before he made his presidential aspirations publicly known:

Keynote Speech
at his Foundation for Excellence in Education Summit 10/17/13:
"I understand there are those opposed to the standards. But what I want to hear from them is more than just opposition. I want to hear their solutions for the hodgepodge of dumbed-down state standards that have created group mediocrity in our schools.
Criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers. (Emphasis added)."

Interview in the Wall Street Journal
(12/1/14) as Quoted in FSCCC Article Potential Bush III "Has Lost His Patience" with We Lowly Common Core Critics (12/5/14)
Instead of trying to deal with the myriad logical academic, developmental, psychological, and privacy problems of the Common Core system, as stated in a recent Wall Street Journal interview reported in Ben Shapiro's Truth Revolt, he had another of what Michelle Malkin had described as a "Common Core snit fit."  Jeb whined that he has "lost [his] patience," describing to the Journal, "an unwillingness of special interests to improve public education."
The Wall Street Journal further reported:
"He reiterated his support for higher academic standards--whether they are the Common Core national standards or other equally rigorous benchmarks--and for testing to measure whether students are meeting them.  'If you don't measure, you really don't care,' he said."

Secondly, despite his protestations about being against federal overreach, he has supported the actions of his father and brother to greatly expand the federal role in education via the World Declaration on Education for All and America 2000 (George HW Bush) that led to the federal mandate of statewide standards and tests for the first time in American history and No Child Left Behind (George W Bush) that has given us the federal annual testing mandate and data collection.  Jeb also worked with Arne Duncan to support Race to the Top, still supports the standards incorrectly portraying them as high without documentation,  is in support of the heinous Every Child Achieves Act, and has tried to tell Republican activists ignorantly or deceptively  that the federal overreach into standards is fixed:

Details provided in the list by American Principles Project show how the prohibition on federal involvement with standards are completely false.  This is especially important because presidential candidate Jeb Bush is perpetuating the falsehood that the prohibitions against federal control of standards are real.  In the following audio clip from a conference call with Alabama Republicans, Bush bragged about how he got his good buddy Lamar Alexander to put this prohibition in the Senate bill (listen starting at 2:32).

The problem is that this type of prohibition was already in federal law in three places.  That did not stop the current administration from bribing and blackmailing states to adopt Common Core.  In addition, neither the old nor the new language contains any enforcement mechanism for the states that are coerced or bribed.  Either Jeb Bush is ignorant of this situation or he is knowingly participating in the deception.  Neither situation reflects well on him, especially since he is running for president and portrays himself as such an education guru.

On this point, Bush is really no different than Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who as a US senator was on the conference committee that gave us No Child Left Behind and recently supported Common Core at a campaign event.


Finally, Jeb Bush, knowing how unpopular it is, tried to deflect away from Common Core and talk about his education record while governor of Florida mentioning his third grade retention policies and the better reading scores of minority fourth grade students.  What people do not seem to understand is that of course the scores would be better if his policies required the removal and retention of those students scoring lowest because they were removed from the pool of students tested. There also is no evidence that retention is helpful and some that it is harmful.  He also somehow failed to mention that high school ACT scores declined in Florida under his watch and have not significantly improved, being significantly below the national average in 2013 and ranking 47th out of the 50 states.

Marco Rubio did an excellent job of clearly and succinctly explaining the problem with Common Core and federal involvement in standards:

"We do need curriculum reform. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed.

Here's the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate. In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is: "You will not get federal money unless you do things the way we want you to do it." And they will use common core or any other requirement that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people and our states."
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also said he opposed federal involvement in education:

"And the fact is there are a lot of things happening at the federal level that are absolutely beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution. This is power that should be shifted back to the states, whether it's the EPA, there is no role at the federal level for the Department of Education."
Unfortunately, many question Huckabee's sincerity on opposition to Common Core given his multiple statements on both sides of that issue as described by Andrew Johnson in National Review:
But the rising concern over Common Core is one challenge Huckabee will have to face that he didn't have to worry about in 2008. While never an outright champion of Common Core, Huckabee has publicly offered support for the proposal in the past. He has praised the standards for having been developed by governors and state education officials. In 2013, he sent a letter to Oklahoma state lawmakers ahead of a vote that would dump Common Core, encouraging them "to resist any attempt to delay implementation" of the standards. And last year, the Washington Post reported that Huckabee urged an organization that helped develop the standards to "rebrand" Common Core, because the name had become "toxic."

Huckabee was and Bush still is listed on a website as in favor of Common Core that mock opponents of the standards and was trying to convince Louisiana legislators to not repeal the standards that said, "Unicorns are not real. Neither are most of the things you have heard about the Common Core State Standards."  Huckabee later had his name taken off the list apparently to give the appearance that he now opposes the standards, but major activists like Shane Vander Hart were still skeptical. Here is another example of contradictory statements coming from Huckabee:

None of the other candidates were really given questions about education to show what they know, believe or would do about this critical issue.Despite crowing by Bush campaign surrogates, no major pundit thought he had a stelllar or break-out performance.  In fact, The Hill called him a loser in the debate, as did several other sources, The Fox News Special Report panel both right after and the next night barely mentioned him.

This is only the first debate, so hopefully there will be many more opportunities to discuss Common Core and what the federal role in education should be.  Please stay tuned!

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