At education summit, Jeb Bush seeks balance on Common Core under 2016 glare
WASHINGTON — This town is lush with speculation about who will run for president so when Jeb Bush took the stage Thursday morning at his Foundation for Excellence in Education summit, there was great interest in what he had to say.
The former Florida governor stuck to the wonky contours of education policy — it is why he is here, after all — but in doing so Bush also tried to finesse a major issue that would confront him if he decides to enter the hunt for the 2016 Republican nomination: Common Core.
Bush said the debate over the education standards has been "troubling" and Common Core should be "the new minimum in classrooms."
But he readily added, "I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue" and said states choosing another path should "aim even higher, be bolder."
"Even if we don't all agree on Common Core, there are more important principles for us to agree on," he said. "We need to pull together whenever we can."
He was attempting to focus on higher academic rigor, not the tarnished Common Core brand. Bush has been doing this for a while but the 2016 presidential speculation, nearing a climax as candidates announce their intentions, has put the controversy in a new light.
"He realized this is a political hot potato and he's trying to be careful how much he comes across, but I think deep down in his heart he does support it," said Jose Afonso, a charter school advocate from New Hampshire who attended the summit and is not a Common Core supporter.
"And look," Afonso added, "who doesn't support elevating the standards in America?"
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