Monday, August 19, 2013

Conservatives’ Two Schools of Thought about Common Core May Cost Jeb Bush

Common CoreConservatives are lining up for and against Common Core, and Frederick Hess, writing for the National Review Onlineis predicting that the testing standards may become a liability for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush if he runs for president. Gov. Bush is the face of the testing accountability reform movement, and as Chair of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, he has guided the GOP’s education reform platform since he left office in 2007. Now as a 2016 putative GOP nominee (should the party finally convince him to run), his support of Common Core might become a sticking point for conservatives as Massachusetts’ health care reform was for Mitt Romney in 2012. Gov. Bush finds himself in an awkward position as the star of accountability testing reform while having to fend off fellow conservatives who decry Common Core as an Obama administration scheme to control state education, even though Education Secretary Arne Duncan has dismissed such claims as coming from the “lunatic fringe.” Gov. Bush's education reform credibility was also dented a bit by the embarrassing scandal of one of his “Chiefs for Change,” Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett. Bennett resigned this summer from his Florida post after emails written while he was Indiana’s education superintendent contained orders to raise the grades of a charter school owned by a wealthy GOP donor. Gov. Bush was clearly annoyed by the grade-change incident but not at Bennett. In a defense of Bennett in the Miami Herald, Gov. Bush predictably blamed the far left—and somewhat unexpectedly—also criticized the “political right” for the controversy. 

Hess says that Gov. Bush’s failure to convince far-right conservatives that the Common Core standards are worthwhile or to distance himself from the Obama administration’s support of them may cost him dearly should he vie for the 2016 candidacy. Gov. Bush doubtless pitched the Common Core standards last week at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) education seminar and will again on September 3rd at his annual National Summit on Education Reform. A week later, as the chair of the Constitution Center, Gov. Bush will present the 2013 Liberty Medal to Hillary Clinton for her work as Secretary of State, an event that is sure to raise far-right conservatives’ fur again.


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