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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio comes out against Common Core, putting him at odds with Jeb Bush



Sen. Marco Rubio has joined growing criticism of the education standards known as Common Core, putting him in conflict with Jeb Bush at a time when Rubio is sharpening his conservative credentials.

"Common Core started out as a well-intentioned effort to develop more rigorous curriculum standards," Rubio said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "However, it is increasingly being used by the Obama Administration to turn the Department of Education into what is effectively a national school board. This effort to coerce states into adhering to national curriculum standards is not the best way to help our children attain the best education. Empowering parents, local communities and the individual states is the best approach.”

Rubio, who supported more rigorous education standards as part of his 100 Ideas project as Florida House speaker, first voiced opposition to the conservative Shark Tank blog.

Rubio's new remarks do not mention Bush, but the former governor has been a big advocate of the Common Core State Standards, which have come under assault from tea party groups and other conservatives who warn about a federal education takeover. Some say the program will be used to collect data on students.

"If you don't stop it," Glenn Beck said earlier this year, "American history is over as you know it."

Bush and others say they are not an exact prescription of what must be taught and that critics are feeding off distortions and ignorance.

"These standards, the Common Core State Standards, are clear and straightforward. They will allow for more innovation in the classroom, less regulation, they'll equip students to compete with their peers across the globe," Bush said at the Mackinac Policy Conference in late May. "Do not pull back. Please do not pull back from high, lofty standards."

As the controversy has flared, backers have tried to play up the conservative support with a website that includes quotes from prominent figures such as Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Rick Scott.

A section of the website titled "Myth vs. Fact" reads: "Standards are expectations. For instance, we expect students to know that 2+2=4, and why. Curriculum is the program created by local school districts to teach students to learn that 2+2 =4, and why. Standards are statements. Curriculum includes many resources: activities, lessons, units, assessments, and can include publisher textbooks."

Rubio's comments come as he has taken criticism from the right over immigration reform.

"I have long supported and continue to support strong standards and accountability for public schools," Rubio said before charging that Obama has used Common Core for no good. Rubio says the standards should be made at the state level.

"It's a weird partisan issue, with a strange bedfellows effect happening," Michelle Rhee said at the Mackinac conference. "Some way right-wing tea party people don't like federal mandates, then you've got left wing teacher union folks who don't like accountability for their teachers."

A Bush spokeswoman declined comment Friday.

[Last modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 4:10pm]


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