Jeb Bush’s Rhetoric and Reality on Common Core

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Pioneer Institute respects Governor Jeb Bush’s education reform accomplishments in Florida and even honored him at a 2010 event.  Unfortunately, at today’s opening of the Foundation for Excellence in Education National Summit on Education Reform, held in Washington, D.C., Governor Bush continues to misrepresent the facts around Common Core national education standards.

In his speech today, Governor Bush argued that the Common Core is a high standard and that “the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum in classrooms.”  With the Core aiming to instruct and test Algebra I in grades 9 and 10, and with a substantial reduction in the high-quality literature in the standards, the Core is hardly a set of standards that will cause fear in high-performing countries or economic competitors like China, India, and Japan.

Moreover, the Core is not a “minimum” or, as Governor Bush has suggested in other venues, a “floor.”  The PARCC and SBAC tests clearly determine when content will be taught.  The establishment of teacher evaluations tied to these tests only underscores how the Core is both a floor and a ceiling on student learning.

Numerous independent studies have demonstrated Common Core’s shortcomings, which include:

–          Mediocre academic quality in both ELA and math that falls far short of the best of the previous state standards

–          Legal issues related to the federal government’s incentivizing the adoption of national standards and funding the two national testing consortia

–          Prohibitive costs and unfunded federal mandates imposed on states and localities

–          Issues associated with protection of student privacy and data collection

It is becoming increasingly clear that the federal Race to the Top grant by which a majority of states adopted Common Core is barely a race to the middle in terms of academic quality.

While we respect some of his accomplishments while in office, it must be remembered that the Governor’s home state of Florida is still a below-average-performer on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card.  To achieve global competitiveness in K-12 education, America must do better than a one-size-fits-all set of mediocre standards.

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