This article appears on Breitbart.com, a conservative media outlet. Written by Dr. Susan Berry, a regular contributor to the website, it is critical of Jeb Bush’s support for the Common Core and details his relationships with other groups and funders.
With polls showing Republican support for Common Core plummeting, common sense would dictate that Bush call it a day with the nationalized standards, as has been done by other Republicans, such as Maine Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who plans to run for governor of Louisiana next year.
However, as a review of Bush’s history with the education initiative demonstrates, his interest in pushing onto the entire nation the reforms he introduced while governor of Florida – and his methods for doing so – have led his critics to claim he is more about big government crony capitalism than concern for children’s education.
Bush is the founder of several organizations that all play into a reported strategy that involves not only motivating “the people” at large for changes in education, but also using state education officials to administratively make some of those changes happen without the scrutiny or approval of the public.
As the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), a national group which states its ambitious mission is “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential,” Bush tapped for CEO Patricia Levesque, his former deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation while he was governor.
Chiefs for Change is an affiliate of FEE and describes itself as a “bipartisan coalition of current and former state education chiefs who believe that American public education can be dramatically improved.” Current members of Chiefs for Change include Mark Murphy of Delaware, Tom Luna of Idaho, John White of Louisiana, Hanna Skandera of New Mexico, Janet Barresi of Oklahoma – who was defeated in the state’s primary election this year, Deborah Gist of Rhode Island, and Kevin Huffman of Tennessee, former education commissioner and ex-husband of controversial Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee…..
As it happens, some of the Chiefs for Change are also members of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two federally funded interstate consortia that are developing tests aligned with the Common Core standards.
“Cronyism and corruption come in all political stripes and colors,” wrote [Michelle] Malkin at Townhall. “As a conservative parent of public charter school-educated children, I am especially appalled by these pocket-lining GOP elites who are giving grassroots education reformers a bad name and cashing in on their betrayal of limited-government principles…..”
Additionally, Bush has joined with former president of the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute Chester Finn and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Conservatives for Higher Standards, a group that promotes the Common Core standards but whose supporters still call themselves “conservatives.” Among the organization’s supporters are Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), soon-to-be head of the Senate committee that oversees education; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R); former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R); Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R); former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R); and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).
The Fordham Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Bush’s national organization have all been awarded grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary private backer of the Common Core standards.
In 2013, Bush’s FEE itself received $3,500,000 from the Gates Foundation. Two million dollars of that was awarded to FEE “to support Common Core implementation,” and $1.5 million was “for general operating support….”
In addition to the Gates Foundation, FEE’s donor list includes names not unfamiliar to critics of the Common Core standards: the GE Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, News Corp, the Walton Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation, the Schwab Foundation, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Paul Singer Foundation, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Intel, K12, Pearson, Scholastic, and Target.
Book publishers such as Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, K12, and Scholastic are all poised to reap billions off the sale of Common Core-aligned textbooks and instructional materials that school districts are forced to purchase if they want their students to succeed on the Common Core-aligned assessments. Similarly, technology companies will benefit from the online assessments and student data collection.