THINK PROGRESS: Why GOP Attacks On Bush’s Education Views May Not Derail His Candidacy

Career College Central Summary:

  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will announce his candidacy for president on Monday, but many conservatives have continued to raise questions about whether or not his position on Common Core will hurt him in 2016.
  • After former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced their opposition to Common Core, Bush is the only Republican left who supports the standards. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who will likely announce a run for president, also previously supported Common Core before it became so-called political poison for Republican candidates.
  • Common Core

    • Publications ranging from The Washington Post to the National Review say Bush’s support of Common Core could hurt Bush’s presidential run in 2016. Bush has made small changes in his rhetoric, saying the standards need to be “state-driven,” since the popular conservative argument against Common Core is that it is the result of federal overreach. The standards are already state-driven, since they come from the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers and the states choose to adopt them.
    • Common Core may not be the kryptonite some argue it is, however. According to Nate Silver’s breakdown of microdata files provided by the Associated Press and NORC, as much as 44 percent of Republicans said they believed the standards would improve the quality of education and only 13 percent said they would decrease the quality of education. Even among “strong Republicans,” more of them said Common Core would improve education quality than decrease it, at 29 percent versus 22 percent. But there is a possibility that Republicans would oppose the standards even if they believe those standards will improve education.
    • Among registered voters in Iowa, 65 percent said it was either totally or mostly acceptable for a candidate to support Common Core standards. In addition, likely Republican caucus-goers were not really worried by Bush’s Common Core stance but rather his loyalty to his brother and statements on the war in Iraq, according to a recent Bloomberg Politics/Purple Strategies focus group.
    • Negative perceptions on Common Core are enough of a concern for its supporters that The Collaborative for Student Success, a nonprofit that has pushed for the standards, spent $764,000 on under 1,500 ads in the state according to The Sunlight Foundation. That amount is higher than ad buys from super PACs created by supporters of 2016 presidential candidates.
    • But the focus on Bush’s stance on Common Core has also overshadowed his position on other important education issues, where his support may be less strong. For example, Bush has been supportive of for-profit colleges which recently garnered bad press for abusive practices.
  • For-profit colleges

    • Bush spoke at an annual convention of The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, a trade association for for-profit colleges, last year. He opposed the president’s gainful employment rule, which required that in order for schools to qualify for federal student aid, they would have to show how their institution prepared students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation,” which uses debt-to-income ratios to measure employment.

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