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Jeb’s Misleading Talk on Common Core

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by Stanley Kurtz at National Review

When Common Core supporter Jeb Bush and Common Core opponent Marco Rubio faced off during last week’s Republican presidential debate, they barely seemed to disagree. After moderator Bret Baier posed a question on the clash between Common Core advocates, on the one hand, and opponents of federal involvement in education, on the other, Bush denied the contrast: “I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards, directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum content. That is clearly a state responsibility.” So are Bush and Common Core opponents really on the same page when it comes to local control in education? Not in the least.

Jeb’s Common Core answer was well-practiced, yet profoundly misleading. The whole trick of Common Core is to make an end-run around the legal and constitutional barriers to a national curriculum, even as you deny that you’re doing it. Bush and his Common Core-supporting allies have been pretending to favor local control for years. Yet Jeb has repeatedly backed the most controversial Obama administration moves to consolidate what amounts to a national curriculum. A careful look at Bush’s record makes his actual views all-too-clear.

First you’ve got to understand the Orwellian world of Common Core advocacy, where day is night, war is peace, and Bush is Obama (well actually, that last one is true). The central goal of Common Core advocates is to replace the varying education standards of all 50 states with a single national model, placing special reliance on federal pressure to bring this about. The problem is that the Constitution leaves education to the states, while no less than three laws clearly bar federal direction, supervision, or control of state curricula. So the challenge is to nationalize the curriculum and circumvent the Constitution, and the law, while denying that any of this is happening.

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