Governor Jeb Bush Talks Higher Standards on The Hugh Hewitt Show

The Hugh Hewitt Show: Jeb Bush on the Common Core

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Hugh Hewitt Show: Jeb Bush on the Common Core

“Jeb Bush on the Common Core”

July 30, 2013

Hugh Hewitt: I have been spending a lot of yesterday and today talking with people about the Common Core and as I explained yesterday with Bill Bennett and Jay Mathews and others today, all of a sudden, a couple of months ago people started approaching me at forums and asking my opinion about this and voicing criticism and some support, as Bill Bennett explained yesterday, what’s your connection to it, what’s the origin of Common Core, Governor Bush?

JB: Common Core state standards were standards that were developed by Governors and state school officers, those folks that are either Commissioners of Education or Secretaries of Education in 2006-2007.  Forty-five states agreed to those standards.

The intent was to create standards so that when a young person reached 12th grade and graduated from 12th grade they would be college and/or career ready, because right now about a 1/3 of our kids are college or career ready, even if they get a diploma.  So, the idea was to benchmark these standards to the best in the world, make fewer of them, require critical thinking skills, make them higher standards and make it voluntary. And, from that effort; amazingly, really, if you think about it, 45 states have signed up.

HH: And so, was the genius of the idea yours? Where did it come from?

JB: No…the genius came, I think, really came from the National Governors Association, business, military [communities], a lot of people are concerned about higher standards, and I am as well.  I think our standards are way too low.

If you think about it, if we spend more per student than any country in the world other than Luxembourg apparently, and a third of our kids, even though a lot them get a piece of paper that say they’ve graduated, but they take remedial courses in college or they don’t have the skills to get a job.  That’s a failed system. There’s a huge cap so raising the standards I’ve always been for them.

HH: Where does it impose curriculum?

JB: The curriculum is why people get all riled up and legitimately so. They are told that this will be a national curriculum. In fact, standards are different than curriculum, and that is where I think the biggest misnomer is and where people legitimately get concerned.  I would be concerned if we had a national curriculum influenced by the federal government. My Gosh, I’d break out in a rash.

JB: You know, these are standards that are common, that have been embraced from the bottom up, not from the top down. And, the curriculum will be created just as it always has been.

And by the way, the curriculum we have today for those that are concerned about Common Core State Standards, and I’m glad they are interested in the subject because the curriculum we have today is, in many places,…is horrendous.

And so it’s totally how you teach to those standards, and it is still something that should be driven by state and local school districts and by policy makers at the state level.

HH: Okay. Now, let me run through some of off stated criticisms I’ve found in the really couple of weeks that I’ve been looking at this.  Number one, very facial but our friends on the left like to say that your friend, and some would say your protégé, Senator Marco Rubio, is opposed to the Common Core, Jeb Bush is favoring the Common Core, that must mean great controversy. What’s the story there?

JB: I’ve not talked to Marco about it. I read a letter that was partially published in the St Pete Times, and in that he expressed concern about national curriculum. I have the exact same concern. I also have concern about the federal government coercing states to embrace this. Florida has embraced it ,and as a Florida Senator he should be happy with the fact that this has been vetted by the Legislature.

The Governor of the state supports it and it’s a state driven initiative, along with the other states. So, I don’t think there are big differences. I’ve not talked to him about it, but a lot of people, as I said including President Obama for some odd reason, who should know better in his State of the Union address, brought the fact that this was a national curriculum. It isn’t.

HH: Michelle Malkin and others, I think, I think it’s Michelle, worry about federal data mining, part of this giant accumulation of data on kids and parents and families. What’s your reaction to that criticism, Governor Bush?

JB: I can see why people get riled up if opinion leaders like Michelle Malkin or, I don’t know if she said that, but other people like that, have made that case. The data that exists will continue to be where it exists right now in each state.  The State of Florida has a state data bank. Every state has one. Ours is pretty advanced and we have used it to be able to help teachers develop strategies to make sure that struggling readers learn how to read and kids understand, or don’t understand math concepts, get the remedial help they need.

So, there’s not going to be any change in that. There’s no federal data base in the sky somewhere that we’re these people are going to be mining information that jeopardizes the American families.

HH: Alright, let me get to the core objection. Okay. Let me get to the core objection, the one that I think has the most meat to it. Yesterday, I had on Bill Bennett and Bill said, hey, trust but verify, probably could be a kind thing, it’s not the solution. Then Jay Mathews and I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jay’s work at the Washington Post, but he’s a very fine education writer and he does a lot of good work and following reform, says look there are more important things out there that, that especially in the area of teacher training and recruitment we have to emphasize. So, the concern becomes does the debate over Common Core drain away energy from Ed reform? Does it block pre-empt or in any way supplant other educational reform that is at least as important as is Common Core standards?

JB: That’s a very interesting question…but the simple fact is, for example, I’m huge supporter of school choice, both public and private. There’s nothing in this that jeopardizes school choice programs in the country or jeopardizes, frankly, the advocacy which I’d love to see a lot of this energy be placed and further reformed. High expectations, high standards is only one step towards a significantly better system that is less monopolized, less politicized, less unionized, more focused, more student centered.

You have to start with the basic facts which are that we’re dumbing down our expectations for young people and there is complacency because of that.

Everybody thinks their children are doing fine, and we’re getting our lunch eaten by global competitors that make education a higher, higher priority. So, yes, maybe it takes away some interest but all the critics of Common Core states, they—I’ve not seen them show up in the education reform fight…[they should] maybe focus energy in a positive way to bring about those changes state by state.

HH: Let’s talk about ed reform generally for a second.  By the way, I’m on the Great Hearts Arizona Public Charter Board so I know about public charter schools. I know what you did on public charters and you’re a big proponent of public charters. Bobby Jindal was on the program last week. I asked him about Detroit given his experience in help New Orleans rebuild. He said the most important thing was that they were able to post-Katrina start from scratch and rebuild a charter based public school system. Is that, is that what has to happen…?”

JB: I completely agree with that. I think this is a great opportunity for Detroit just as post-Katrina it was in Louisiana. The Bush Administration liberated the schools and Bobby Jindal, to his credit, and the Louisiana Legislature embraced that opportunity, and fully embraced it, and today kids in New Orleans have a far better chance of being successful in life because of it.

Detroit has a similar kind of circumstance; declining student population, heavily unionized, all the focuses on the economic interests of the people inside the system. This is a great opportunity, and they also have the model that was passed in the Michigan Legislature to Governor Snyder’s credit…So, this is a great opportunity. You are absolutely right.

HH: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, I know the new website is Thanks for spending time with me and helping me unravel this. I appreciate it very much.

JB: I appreciate your interest in it.

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