Supporters of Common Core, an educational standard sweeping across all but a handful of states at this point, see it as a way to improve curriculum across the country. Opponents of the new standard fear it will take control away from local and state governing bodies, and give the federal government a greater role in defining the content and methods schools can use to educate children. The 2016 Republican field is demonstrating this division and the topic has now spilled into the campaign.
Report from USAToday:
Less than 24 hours after Bush announced he will “actively explore” a presidential bid, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — also a potential candidate — shot back with a one-line online ad from RandPAC, his political action committee: “We need leaders who will stand against Common Core,” the ad said.
The quick response shows how controversy over educational standards that have their roots in the education policy of President George W. Bush could affect a campaign by his younger brother.
The GOP’s bumper crop of potential presidential candidates is split on the Common Core, a set of academic guidelines introduced in 2010 by the National Governors Association and adopted by 46 states. Since leaving the Florida governorship in 2007, Bush has spent much of his time advocating for education reform, including Common Core and school choice. He created the Foundation for Excellence in Education as a vehicle for the cause.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supports the standards, as do mainstream Republican-leaning groups including the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which see educational improvement as a necessity for American competitiveness.
But the Common Core standards have become a target of opposition among conservatives, who see them as unwarranted federal intrusion into state and local control of education. Opponents have dubbed the standards “Obamacore.”
To the conservative wing of the GOP, Common Core is anathema. Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio all oppose the standards. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called for repeal of the standards during his re-election campaign this year. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation opting out of the standards in in March. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also considering a presidential campaign, has sued the Obama administration for allegedly coercing states into adopting the standards.
In Iowa, where the first presidential primary contest is held, GOP activists “see it as a complete loss of control,” says Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa conservative. “They believe it is a complete government takeover of the education system.”
This issue tends to cut along lines of “establishment” candidates, like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, versus the “Tea Party candidates,” such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, among others. Make no mistake, whether it gets play in the general election, this will be a hotly debated topic during the Republican primary battle. Obviously a topic which involves children is going to evoke strong reactions from both sides of the issue.
On the Democratic side, support for enacting and expanding Common Core curriculum standards is nearly unanimous across the board.