Bush is Booed in South Carolina as Support for Common Core Continues to Plummet

September, 2015

Karen R. Effrem, MD, Executive Director

Jeb Bush's support continues to sink parallel to the loss of popularity of the Common Core standards that he continues to support.  His strategy of new found federalism, trying to convince conservatives that he opposes federal overreach was extremely unsuccessful at the first presidential debate in August where about the only group who thought he had a good debate was his own campaign.  That same trick was even more unsuccessful at the September 18th Heritage Action Forum in South Carolina where he received a softball question on Common Core by one of the moderators, South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley.  The sophisticated conservative crowd in no way accepted his deception and actually booed him as he tried to give his canned answer.   Associated Press reporters Steve Peoples and Bill Barrows described it this way:

Even among a friendly crowd, there were tense moments.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush triggered boos when he defended his early support for the Common Core education standards, a policy developed by state leaders in both parties that has become a target of tea party ire.
"I'm for higher standards, and Common Core standards are higher than the standards that exist," Bush said before being interrupted by boos. "If South Carolina wants to be without Common Core standards, great, just make sure the standards that you apply are higher than the ones before you had Common Core. Standards matter. Accountability matters."

The contrast in the levels of applause and support for Bush (22:17) and a strongly anti-Common Core candidate like Ted Cruz (1:36:34) at this event was striking.  While Bush had a few people in the front rows stand up when he finished, the applause was brief and merely polite.  When Cruz, who has called at other events for the abolition of the Department of Education and has vowed to end federal support and promotion for Common Core, finished his remarks, the ovation was widespread, raucous and sustained.  The AP encapsulated Bush's problem this way:

"The event was awash in fiery rhetoric, but no candidate has struggled more with his party's conservative base than Bush.

'He could perform like Superman in the debates, but he's dead in the water with the tea party and the base generally," said tea party movement co-founder Mark Meckler. "He's the only candidate they absolutely loathe.'"

Bush seems to think that if he can continue to avoid using the term "Common Core" or continue trumpeting his new- found love affair with the Tenth Amendment, that he can pull the wool over the eyes of Republican primary voters.  Yet, his reception in South Carolina coupled with his poll numbers and the release of this year's Education Next poll on Common Core released in August shows that this is not likely.  In fact, the poll also showed that avoiding using the term "Common Core" that Bush has called "poisonous" does not preserve support for the national standards (H/T The Pulse 2016):

"The latest decline in support for these standards does not arise simply from a politically tainted Common Core 'brand.' Among a second group of respondents who answered the same question but without the phrase 'Common Core,' support for the use of shared standards across the states slid from 68% in 2014 to 54% in 2015." (Emphasis added)
This also indicates that Jeb Bush's efforts to help Rick Scott stay out of political trouble on Common Core during his 2014 re-election campaign and his efforts around the country to rebrand Common Core  that have been lauded by the Obama White House are not fooling people.

As shown in this Brookings Institute graph about the study's numbers, support for these horrific standards continues to decline while opposition continues to increase as people learn more about them and they see the kind of skewed, low quality aligned curriculum that comes home in their children's backpacks:
The opposition is now becoming more bipartisan.  Brookings said:

But this year, support among Democrats dropped six points and opposition increased by eight points. President Obama and numerous other Democratic officials have served as the standards most ardent boosters. If support for the standards continues its decline then the probability of politicians abandoning the national standards project will increase.  (Emphasis added).

This means that current Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton is not likely to be helped by her support of Common Core. Additionally, The Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll also shows considerable opposition in all demographic groups:

Both polls stressed the strong preference of respondents to have state or local, not federal, agencies in charge of standards, accountability, and curriculum.  Although there are many other important issues in the presidential election, how the candidates actually carry out their claims to support local control and the efforts to decrease the federal footprint in education to its proper constitutional role will be extremely important to voters. It also seems highly unlikely that the biggest Common Core supporters in the race - Bush, Kasich, and Clinton are unlikely to significantly change their position to their grave political peril.

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