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September 23 2013

Jeb Bush Gets Ornery with Opponents of Common Core

Vicki E. Alger

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush lashed out against Common Core opponents during his National Press Club appearance last week.

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 ... 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. I'm for that. I'm not for the politics of education. I tire from the politics of education. …The fight about Common Core is political.

Bush is right about how politicized this issue is—but he’s dead wrong about who exactly is responsible.

My position on Common Core national standards is no secret. I have written extensively about how in my opinion they're an unconstitutional federal imposition of “academic” standards that are weak, expensive, highly susceptible to the latest political fad, including sexualizing children, and that the associated testing is a way for government to gather an unprecedented amount of personal information about students and their families.

Most important, neither Bush nor his Common Core advocates have ever explained how national standards will succeed where every other federal attempt to improve American schooling has failed—most notably the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) pushed by his brother George W. Bush.

NCLB resulted in the well-documented, systemic lowering of state standards once federal cash was at stake. Rather than risk missing annual achievement growth benchmarks and losing the associated federal funding, states simply lowered the bar with such gimmicks as passing scores set below 50 percent and excluding test results from certain student sub-groups.

Yes. Students could answer less than 50 percent of the NCLB math and reading questions correctly on their state assessments, poor results from children who were struggling could be ignored, and the federal cash kept on flowing.

So no matter how rigorous standards seemed on paper, state and national politicians did not ensure that they had real teeth come assessment time. There’s not a shred of evidence that Common Core national standards will be any different—and with the Obama Administration’s propensity to issue waivers from the most basic benchmarks, there’s every reason to believe things will be much worse.

Michelle Malkin has been tracking the advance of Common Core national standards and has a great piece detailing how leading experts oppose this push. Importantly she points out how testing companies and other backers are making a financial windfall off taxpayers and students.

Let me be clear: I have no problem with anyone in an education-related field making an honest profit. In fact, I think education should be more market-driven. We’d get better results and greater opportunities for more students and teachers at a fraction of what we’re spending now.

I DO have a problem with taxpayer-subsidized sweetheart deals for private companies that are more than capable of offering products and services without a government handout. And if they’re not capable of market competition, they should go out of business.

I have had the pleasure of working with Jeb Bush and his organization in the past to expand parental choice for all families. At the time I particularly appreciated the diplomacy and civility extended to those—including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—who vehemently oppose parental choice in education.

It is truly disappointing now to witness such vitriol directed against those of us who have serious, well-founded concerns about Common Core national standards.

 

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Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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