Jeb Bush and the Common Core Money Trail

Florida is known for having great options when it comes to school choice and, in some ways, that remains true. After all, Florida provides many options for families in public, private, and online education, which is far more than a lot of states provide. However, all is not as it seems in Florida.  

Jeb Bush, lauded as a champion of school choice, finds himself firmly on the wrong side of one of the largest issues facing educational freedom today; Common Core. 

Common Core is self-described as a way to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them…with American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

But parents and teachers are concerned about the broad scope of the program, and the fact that the standards have not been proven to be effective. Groups around the country have been mobilizing against common core, which some are calling “Obamacore,” as it is an unprecedented level of federal intrusion into education. It turns out We the People are more willing to fight for our Tenth Amendment rights than lawmakers expected. We are willing to stand up for the rights of the states to determine curriculum and testing standards, rather than a centralized national body. Why would we want to give up more control and centralize education?  

Even in Florida, where Bush was once governor,  there is significant resistance to Common Core. Their robust environment of school choice means that parents have the freedom to select the best school and learning paths for their children, and a homogenization of schools will effectively render that worthless. Florida’s education reform has been working, so why would they want to take a step backward and give back so much gain?  Why is Jeb Bush pushing an agenda many parents and organizations don’t want pushed on children?  

The Foundation for Educational Excellence, founded by Bush, has been supporting Common Core, and Bush has been speaking out in support of it personally. In April, he wrote an op-ed singing its praises, in which he writes against “the entrenched establishment, which dominated K-12 public education for far too long,” and praised Common Core for “defin(ing) what students need to know.” Those two statements are at odds with each other, are they not? Is “the establishment” not the group which would mandate these standards? Does he not see the hypocrisy in these statements, the conflict inherent within them? Parents certainly can, and they aren’t having it, or Jeb Bush. Still, he fights this strange battle. 

When something just doesn’t make sense, we’re told to follow the money. In this case, as in so many others, that could be the key. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the significant, although not the only, financial force behind Common Core. Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence has also been the beneficiary of their largesse. Could that be why the group now puts out pieces such as this e-mail entitled “Debunking Common Core State Standard Myths,” which is a collection of pieces in support of common core? It certainly seems to fit. 

Recently, the RNC passed a resolution against Common Core, slamming it for being against both change and competition, both of which Bush claims to champion. Still, Bush has not changed his tune. 

Knowing this is really a state level battle to allow federal control of education, Bush is traveling around the country speaking in support of Common Core. Recently, he was in Michigan, which is in the midst of a battle these standards. While there, he was peddling the same tired lines, reiterating that “Common Core standards are standards, they’re not curriculum.” While that is technically true, the curriculum would have to be sufficient to meet standardized testing which would, in turn, have to fit with Common Core.

This is nothing more than a back door intrusion into more control over education and we shouldn’t pretend diffently.  Jeb Bush is putting big money and powerful interests ahead of children and parents and someone needs to call him out for it.