Just how bad of an image problem does the Common Core really have? You see the word “toxic” used quite a bit. And anything with even close to that level of unpopularity will generally keep the politicians very far away.
Yet two very prominent Republican politicians who are considered likely presidential contenders apparently didn’t get the memo.
Jeb Bush gave the keynote at his Foundation for Excellence’s conference yesterday, and the Daily Caller reported:
On Thursday, some speculated that Bush might shy away from the standards and focus on his other educational achievements, but he declined to do so. Instead, during his address he spent several minutes giving a full-throated defense of the standards. He declared that Common Core was essential to rolling back a current climate of low expectations for American high school graduates. Half of all community college students require remedial coursework, he said, while one-third of high school graduates can’t pass the military’s entrance examination and 600,000 skilled factory jobs are unfilled because there are no skilled employees able to take them.
“Given this reality, there is no question that we need higher academic standards,” Bush said. “In my view, the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum.” States should feel free to create their own standards, Bush said, but if they do they should aspire to make sure the standards go above and beyond Common Core.
Meanwhile, at yesterday’s Republican Governors Association confab, Ohio Gov. John Kasich—surrounded by anti-Core members of his party—stood tall on high standards, as reported on cleveland.com:
Kasich also was pressed on his support for Common Core, education standards devised by the National Governors Association but derided by conservatives as an overreach by the federal government. (Wisconsin Gov. Scott) Walker, perhaps Kasich’s chief rival among the subset of Midwest governors with swing-state appeal, is an ardent foe.
“I don’t see somehow that this is a ‘ObamaCore’ or some other kind of thing that I hear,” Kasich said. “I have looked at it carefully. If the federal government starts meddling in this, if you start trying to do all this education policy out of Washington, I’m not for that. But as long as local school boards and parents are involved in writing the curriculum to reach a higher standard, particularly in math and science … that makes a lot of sense.”
The Common Core will obviously face a tougher political test as the presidential races heat up, but at least initially, there are strong GOP contenders who are not being swayed by the political bluster and instead are standing firmly on their convictions, and the early results—the clear signs in places like Kentucky, Tennessee and Massachusetts that the higher standards pay off for kids.