The usual narrative about the politics of Common Core describe it as a split within the Republican Party. On one side are the extremist members of the Tea Party, fearful of a federal takeover. On the other side are “moderate” Republicans like Jeb Bush, eager to make American students globally competitive.
The Southern Poverty Law Center thinks that the grassroots radicals want to use Common Core to destroy public education. Glenn Beck ‘s new book displays equal contempt for Common Core and public education.
But what is Jeb Bush’s role? He is no moderate. He is an avid proponent of vouchers, charters, tax credits for private schools, and virtual charters. He is as eager to destroy public education as any member of the Tea Party.
In this 2012 speech to business leaders, Bush said that the rigorous standards, if linked to rigorous assessments, would show the public just how bad our schools really are. He said,
“Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush captured the scale of the challenge when he told the gathering on the first morning that states are heading for a “train wreck.” He noted that when the new standards and assessments come fully online in 2015 that many communities, schools, and families are in for a rude awakening.”
Furthermore, “Bush warned that such bluntness about the poor health of American education and student achievement will trigger serious political backtracking. He said, “My guess is there’s going to be a lot of people running for cover and they are going to be running fast.”
Jeb Bush, in short, looks forward to the inevitable collapse of test scores on Common Core tests. The public, he expects, will be so shocked by the scores that they will be open to the choices he advocates. Suddenly, there will be a public clamor for vouchers, charters, online learning.
So the great divide within the Republican Party over Common Core is not between the “moderate” Jeb Bush and the “radical” Tea Party, but between factions that are both hostile to public education.