WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is seen as a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2016, but his unflinching commitment to the Common Core standards experiment is souring many GOP voters on his campaign even before it officially begins.
Turning off potential supporters is a risk Bush seems willing to take.
During his recent speech to the National Press Club, Bush berated Common Core critics – many of whom are conservative Republicans who will vote in the presidential primaries – for being “comfortable with mediocrity” in K-12 education.
“There are a lot of people that believe that somehow this is a national takeover of what is the domain of local and state governments … ,” Bush said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But in fact these are 45 states that have voluntarily come together to create fewer, higher, deeper standards that, when you benchmark them to the best of the world, they are world class.”
Bush went on to blast critics as behaving in a “purely political” manner.
“Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have huge swaths of the next generation of Americans that can’t calculate math. They can’t read. Their expectations in their own lives are way too low. And we’re not going to be able to sustain this extraordinarily exceptional country unless we challenge every basic assumption on how we do things,” Bush said.
None of his arguments impressed conservative author and columnist Michelle Malkin, who refutes many of Bush’s talking points in her latest column.
“If you question Jeb Bush and his Big Business/Big Government cronies, you stand foursquare against student achievement and intellectual rigor,” Malkin writes. “Pay attention, all you informed moms and dads who have raised pointed, carefully researched questions about the costs, quality, validity, constitutionality and intrusiveness of Common Core. Bush thinks you are ‘purely political’ beasts who are recklessly harming your own kids’ scholastic advancement.”
Malkin cites several highly respected scholars who have given the thumbs down to the new Common Core math and English standards, and debunks the notion that states adopted the standards without federal coercion.
She also explains that “Bush’s educational foundation, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, is tied at the hip to the federally funded testing consortium called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which raked in $186 million through Race to the Top to develop nationalized tests ‘aligned’ to the top-down Common Core program.”
The former governor’s foundation is also linked to “Pearson, the multi-billion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate” that “snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of PARCC test items,” Malkin writes.
She concludes by urging readers to “follow the money” trail that exists between Bush and the companies who stand to profit from Common Core.
As blistering as Malkin’s criticism is, it’s only a foretaste of what Bush can expect, if and when he formally announces his presidential aspirations.