- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday it’s fine if people don’t like the Common Core K-12 education standards but that high standards of some kind need to be there for kids.

“Clearly, low standards, you know it - that’s what most states have had,” he said. “Higher standards, along with real accountability and school choice and ending social promotion and teacher effectiveness plans and rewarding teachers for continuous improvement [in] student learning - all that together yields rising student achievement.”

Mr. Bush was the first 2016 GOP presidential candidate to speak at an education summit in New Hampshire hosted by The Seventy Four, a non-partisan education news site, and sponsored by the American Federation for Children. An education summit in Iowa featuring Democrats is planned for October.

“And the whole objective needs to be about rising student achievement to deal with [this] skills gap that we face where a third of our kids…ends up not being college or career-ready,” Mr. Bush continued. “So in my mind, the debate needs to be broader. It needs to be about real accountability, school choice, high standards - if people don’t like Common Core, fine - just make sure your standards are much higher than the ones you had before. We can’t keep dumbing down standards.”

The state-level Common Core standards lay out basic facts and principles students should learn at the end of each grade level, but aren’t a national curriculum. The White House did not engineer them, but did incentivize states to adopt them through grant funding.

Some Republicans, such as Louisiana Gov. and 2016 GOP contender Bobby Jindal, are past supporters of the standards but now oppose them, and the issue is a sensitive one among conservatives.

Mr. Bush said the process “should not be federally driven.”

“The federal government should have nothing to say with this,” he said. “The commonality is not as relevant as the highness of them.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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