Jeb Bush to Common Core critics: drop the conspiracy theories


Jeb Bush, among the most vocal and visible supporters of Common Core academic standards, took a hard jab at critics Thursday, suggesting they drop the conspiracy theories and offer solutions.

“What I want to hear from them is more than just opposition,” he said to 800 people in Boston, gathered at the annual conference put on by his Foundation for Excellence in Education. “I want to hear their solutions for the hodgepodge of dumbed-down state standards that have created group mediocrity in our schools.”

“Criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers,” he continued. “Solutions are hard work.”

Bush’s comments come as opposition to Common Core continues to generate a sharp-edged anxiety in his home state and beyond. This week, hundreds of Florida supporters and opponents turned out for public forums ordered by Gov. Rick Scott. Some critics said the standards, which the Republican-dominated Florida Board of Education adopted in 2010, were tied to fascists and communists. The term ‘Common Core’ has become so radioactive the state board actually debated this week whether to use it.

At a panel discussion following Bush’s speech, political strategist Mike Murphy said polling shows most of the public still isn’t familiar with Common Core. The heaviest opposition, he said, comes from Republican primary voters, who, when they’re first asked about the standards, are opposed 2-to-1.

“They think it’s a secret plot controlled by red Chinese robots in the basement of the White House,” he said. “No wonder they don’t like it.”

But the polling, he said, also shows the more people learn about Common Core, the more they do like it. Even a slim majority of Republican primary voters view it favorably after additional information, he said.

Bush’s speech acknowledged a tough year for his vision of education reform, which included the abrupt resignation of Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett and festering questions about the state’s school grading system. He quickly pivoted into an often-overlooked fact – that growing numbers of influential Democrats are calling for similar reforms.

“I used to think what the unions said about me was bad, and then I heard what they were calling (Democratic Chicago Mayor) Rahm Emanuel during last year’s teachers’ strike,” he said.

Emanuel and other urban mayors are “hardly ideologues, hardly conservative and hardly in cahoots with so-called villainous corporate interests,” Bush continued. “They simply are on the front lines, dealing with decades of failure and fiscal recklessness by an education system dominated by union politics and enabled by pass-the-buck politicians.”

Not surprisingly, Bush’s speech also offered a full-throated call for expanded school choice. Florida is arguably the national leader in that regard, with more than 40 percent of all Sunshine State students now attending a school other than their zoned school

“We have the most diverse student population in history,” Bush said. “It defies common sense to corral them all in the same early 20th Century education model and expect them to thrive.”

“There should be more options across the board — charter schools, home schools, vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and Education Savings Accounts – allowing parents to shop for a school that best meets their child’s needs.”

Read the full text of Bush’s speech here.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at


Chinese Robots in the white house, no. Testing companies that have paid for Jeb Bush, yes.
Jeb Bush is so shady and dishonest that if he came out for puppies and sleeping in it would cause me to rethink my stances.

Sandy Stenoff

If you’ve heard that teachers LIKE the Common Core – HERE is what is happening to teachers trying to do right by children as they work with the Common Core States Standards.

Thank you to this teacher for sharing this (on a teacher network). Thank you for speaking up, and for speaking the truth.

Here is her post:

“I have been a silent observer here for many months. If I’m being honest, I must admit that I have some fear over posting here. I do believe there could be repercussions professionally, and I do love and cherish my job as a teacher. However, it is becoming more and more clear to me that if we don’t speak up now, it will be too late.

At a recent training with a large cc publishing company (whose name rhymes with steerson) I sort of butted heads with the sales rep over what is best for emergent readers. After being questioned about what was going on in my classroom, I was told my literacy activities were not really “common core” and that I should stick with the program. When I pointed out the correlation to the standards and said I was under the impression that we could meet the common core standards however we saw fit as educators (as we have been told in our school) I was told “your thinking is dangerous.”

Excuse me? My thinking is dangerous? I’m thinking about what is best for my kids. I am thinking about what will help them read and understand more vocabulary. How they can become writers this year. How to hook them into learning and give them the best opportunities in life. How to support each of them at their own unique levels and reach them using their own unique strengths.

How is this dangerous? If I were a more suspicious person, I’d say I was being threatened, or at least bullied into using a program I know is not right for my students. I feel we must find a safe way to get the word out to parents that this is going on and is not OK. Their kids’ education and psyches are at risk.”

The FLDOE (aka Jeb) keeps telling us that we need higher standards, that if we are against CCSSI, then we don’t want what is best for children, our children. We keep hearing that the CCSSI is about the standards, not curriculum. This past week, at the public hearings in Broward County, a parent put it best, “When it hits my dining table, it is not standards. It is curriculum.”

Whats dangerous is that you care more for the kids than feeding the monstrous beurocracy. Amen for the Teacher who has a soul. Get out before the Union gets to you!

Whats dangerous is that you care more for the kids than feeding the monstrous beurocracy. Amen for the Teacher who has a soul. Get out before the Union gets to you!


The whole truth as usual is money. 15 to 30 dollars per every student, with 30 percent failure rate and minimum 7 test per high school and you are talking big tax bucks, to whom? You add this to mandatory tax cable and Obama Care and who pays and who gets, bend over while you still can. It used to be hard work in private business to succeed, now it is how long can you screw the taxpayer.

Government contractors in other countries are barred from lobbying for their contracts and advertising to get them. Jeb Bush has drained Florida dry and easily flunked the 60% in poverty and many to the streets, (They write the tests to flunk the poor- easier that way) Time for the real money- grabbing our tax dollars nationally. He should be in jail. Any elected official that kowtows to him and takes his payola needs to be jailed. Moms are furious. These are after all, on the vomiting backs of the contractor pawns- our children.

Rosemarie Jensen

It must be nice to dismiss real concerns of PARENTS and actual educators as conspiracy theorists (says the man with no education degree and who never stepped a foot in a public school other than to trash it). One more time, and with FEELING…it was NOT developed by real educators who know HOW children learn best, WHEN children learn concepts best, and HOW to assess them authentically. It was not vetted by parents and teachers in each state but handily approved BEFORE it was even written by the governor and the head of education. It increases high stakes testing which we parents are SICK SICK SICK of as we know the curriculum follows the test and the kids are stressed over having to meet some arbitrary line in the sand that again, NOT developed by real teachers or anyone who knows real children. It calls for BILLIONS in technology and testing and test prep…so who benefits from that? And these tests will be used to hammer children, teachers and schools just like it is intended to so that MORE public ed collars makes it into for profit hands. We Americans, not brought up on COmmon Core, not high stakes tested to death, and taught by teachers who we trusted and respected, can see the Emperor has no clothes and quite frankly, the sight is disgusting.Oh and this idea that public education is p as in prenatal to 20 is also rather creepy coming from a man who is from the party of less government intervention. We love our neighborhood schools and the AMERICAN men and WOMEN mostly who choose to spend each day educating our kids. We want them fully funded with ARTS and electives and extra curriculars and libraries and nurses. We want this Common Core for the commoners out of our schools because it is COMPLETELY developmentally inappropriate for our youngest learners and our teachers are being given SCRIPTS to stick to which is insulting and does not allow for differences…our children aren’t COMMON, they are exceptional and deserve what we had. That is not crazy, conspiratorial, or unreasonable. When Sidwell ad Friends and The Chicago Lab School start following this pablum and evaluate teachers this way and get rid of specials and electives, maybe I will change my mind, but until then, can we agree that politicians and CEOS have no business telling teachers how and what to teach and parents what’s good for our children?

Amen! and Furthermore Private schools who outperform any public school with ease is now forced to waste a Valuable 3 weeks of class time for Common Core testing. We left the public schools for those reasons not to mention my child is not afraid to go to gangs, drugs, etc.Are those kids now going to be forced into our private school? Jeb Bush and Politicians, get the hell out of our Private School!.

Prior to Jeb Bush’s education policy in Florida our kids were learning and succeeding in amazing ways. Our drop out rate was low, the kids were happy and they went on to college, vocational schools and jobs. The Common Core standards were created without input from the states (it is NOT state driven–that is a fallacy) and without input from teachers, especially early childhood education specialists. Because of the lack of educator input, the Common Core standards as written are inappropriate for our schools. Teachers welcome clear cut, concise and appropriate standards that are testable. Common Core is none of these things. The K-5 standards are not developmentally appropriate and are not attainable by children no matter how long you sit them in front of a computer, no matter how many worksheets you give them (150 workbooks for just kinder) and no matter how many hours are wasted on test prep instead of actually teaching the children skills that they will be able to use in life. The high stakes testing that is associated with the Common Core standards need to be dropped completely. The tests are not valid (they do not test the concepts they say they are testing), are not grammatically correct which means a clear and concise answer cannot be determined and they are once again, developmentally inappropriate. We, the people, did not vote to develop this mess. We, the people, did not vote to implement this mess BUT we, the people, are standing firm and protecting our children from this mess. Jeb Bush, the Bush Foundation, Koch, Walton Foundation, Rhee, Pearson and more stand to make millions off of this “education reform.” Their concern is not about how much or well our children learn but instead about how much money they make and how far it promotes their political aspirations. We need to support our children not break them down daily. Research proves and shows that high stakes testing, computer programs and uncertified/untrained teachers will NOT lead to highly educated, happy children. We are now seeing the results. We have time to stop this train wreck. Stop Common Core and all associated high stakes testing (which will stop InBloom from data mining our information and making money off of that too). Remove and get rid of all Teach for America people from educational positions including but not limited to teaching positions, State Board of Education and educational policy boards. We do NOT have shortage of trained, certified teachers in America. We do have a government that is giving kickbacks to Teach for America in exchange for their political support. Our children deserve the best education we can give them–to do this we must return education to the educators. Let them do what they went to college for years to learn to do. Gates dropped out of college. Bush and Rhee sent their kids to private schools that DID NOT have any educational program even remotely close to Common Core and high stakes testing (if it was such a GREAT policy don’t you think their kids would have been educated via the same curriculum and tests?) and none of them have any business whatsoever in educational policy as it is a conflict of interest when you are making policy and as a direct result of those policies you will also gain millions in profit from companies associated with the policy implementation. The public is aware of what Common Core and high stakes testing is all about. There are NO conspiracy theories that are turning people away. WE are knowledgable and we are on to you what the “education reform” is–End Common Core and high stakes testing now!! Period! We are done with it and we are taking education back for our children!! There are over 30 thousand teachers across the United States that belong to a group called the BATS (BadAss Teacher’s Association) and they stand behind every child, some risk their jobs and paychecks to tell parents they can OPT OUT of all high stakes testing and more. 30 thousand teachers plus parents and students are NOT a “special group” nor are they a small group of people that believe in a “conspiracy theory” they are a HUGE group of knowledgable people who are standing their ground. NO COMMON CORE STANDARDS AS WRITTEN AND NO HIGH STAKES TESTING!!!

Kathie Wing Larsyn

i wish i could like all these responses so far…..jeb is a corporate DEformer, and a lot of parents/students/teachers are on to him and his cronies…..the privatization of the public school system is a reality, not a conspiracy theory….every day, all over this country, people are waking up to the plan, NOT drinking the koolaid, and fighting back….for the sake of the children and the professional teachers (read: not TFA scabs) …..i live to battle the conscious abuse taking place because privateers want to grow ever richer, and desire an uneducated populace….

There is an organized plan to destroy public education as we know it, and to PROFIT from this destruction. To see this happening does not make me a conspiracy nut. It makes me an observant and educated (in public schools, no less) person who can understand what is happening. Jeb is a part of this profiteering, and as such wants to deflect attention from what he is doing. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

It takes a very unique and controversial topic to unite opposite ends of the political spectrum the way the Common Core standards seem to be doing. On one side you have rabid left wing teacher union types who are extremely concerned about the value added measurements (VAM’s) that may be used to close schools and fire tenured teachers. On the right you have tea party types who are concerned about the loss of local control and the destruction of the student privacy fire wall. Libertarians in the middle lament the control of standards from an unelected central government bureaucracy. Strange bedfellows indeed.
Add to this the fact that very large corporate interests like Pearson publishing, Microsoft, and Rupert Murdoch stand to make billions of off this going forward and everyone starts to get the idea that something is rotten here. The reform efforts of the past 3 decades are all built on the false premise that American schools are failing. When you account for poverty, American schools are not only not failing, they are in the top three in all categories when compared to the other industrialized nations.
Whether it is conspiratorial or not is moot in my view. The effort to increase standards and measure their effectiveness through more standardized testing has simply not worked. The research does not support the propaganda. There is no reason to spend good money after bad. Did we learn nothing from failure of NCLB? Why are we effectively willing to double down on bad policy. “George W. Bush was an idiot, Obama and his team will certainly do it much better”. Really? I think there is a lot of Kool-Aid being consumed.
The problem with American education is a combination of poverty, secular humanist family erosion, and more centralized control of state and local issues. “You can opt out of NCLB if you sign on to RTT”. Hold out a dollar in front of a politician and you can get him to sell his mother. Look at the mess we have gotten ourselves into built on a false premise. It’s akin to the AGW/Climate Change falderol. Cobble together a coalition of experts built on a false set of assumptions, throw a ton of money at the problem (paying your buddies first of course), and call anyone who opposes you kooks. It worked for the the left on AGW. It may work against them in this case. #Badass Teachers

Jeb Bush is no longer the governor of anything thing.

The fact that a private citizen is pushing Common Core this hard is reason enough to put the breaks on.

Elizabeth Lynch

Does Jeb Bush also consider it a conspiracy theory that the entire premise of NCLB was based upon the “Texas Miracle – which turned out to be a HUGE LIE perpetrated by his brother in order to push through the corporate agenda to begin the dismantling of public education. The President of McGraw-Hill – a Bush family buddy bragged about the HUGE profits reaped as a result of NCLB – and we should give any of the Bush family memebrs credibility? We should believe those who have NO experience in education when they tell us to follow developmentally inappropriate standards that violate three Federal statutes prohibiting National imposition of curriculum and educational decisions? Corporate ed reformers need to start listening to each other – what one denies, the other admits. Duncan has been quoted calling these “National” Standards (2009). Gates bragged about the fact that the standards would become curriculum and will open wonderful markets for corporate profiteers. We are living that reality now with scripted curriculum and one-size fits all instruction that is destroying children. David Coleman has bragged about his role in “convincing the Governors” to adopt the standards and his role in creating them. So, NO, these were not, “state led, teacher created, or internationally benchmarked.” Jeb has an agenda – it is CERTAINLY not to do what is best for children… but then again, there is no money to be made by doing what is best for children, is there?

Jeb’s argues that charter schools, etc. are needed because students are so diverse. That same argument is why I’m against Common Core. Students should be held to high standards but what is developmentally appropriate for one child is not for another. And these standards were not state driven nor were they research driven. The writers started with a finished project and worked backwards. That design process works for building and for projects but not for children.

So Ron Matus, how much did Jeb and his education reform profiteer cronies pay you for publishing this BS?

Real Parent

Charter schools are a huge part of the problem. They take money from the true public schools. They are NOT public schools, as they are run by private corporations, and don’t even have to follow state education laws. They pick which students attend their schools and kick out those who aren’t performing well or who have behavioral problems, an option that public schools don’t have.

<—— Not a conspiracy theorist at all………

“The term ‘Common Core’ has become so radioactive the state board actually debated this week whether to use it.”

This is happening everywhere…..the old name change switcherooni

So instead of responsibly recognizing that the people FULLY REJECT something that was SLID into a funding bill and made into LAW that involves fifty million public school children and their parents and their teachers, we will just change the name.

In Ohio — it is now OHIOs NEW LEARNING SYSTEM…..

Didn’t you ever read Shakespeare? ” A rose by any other name? ”

Well, the same holds true for BULSH*T…….BS is BS is BS is BS … any other name…..

DO you really believe that the name is what bothers folks???? If you type in Against Common Core….into Google search the results show: About 84,500,000 results (0.19 seconds) !! Last week it was 71 million in .26 seconds…..

AND GUESS WHAT????????? None of that is paid for articles or groups that are forming……WE ARE THE FREE VOICE…………we are not bound as puppets or pawns and we are not ruled by MAMMON OBSESSION………

Sooooo you really believe 84 million strikes and results on Google against all of this are all EXTREMISTS????? Paranoid much — or just protecting a big anticipated return investment???

I fight proudly along side of over 30,000 teachers (and growing hourly)……….not extremists,,,,,,,some are from the right and some from the left………some are in the middle……

They are the greatest group of intelligent, CAPABLE, creative AWESOME people I have ever met………

And they are being played and used and BULLIED by you an your likes.

When I was in first grade we learned about community HEROES— policeman, fireman, TEACHERS and Mayors……

Where is the respect and the building of community? It is not reaching the base!
It is not stemming from the base. It is LOFTY and top down… is corporate-driven.



Hi Kelly & others,
Thanks for taking time out to comment and offer your views. I appreciate your passion on education issues, but I have to issue this warning about personal attacks and inappropriate language. As I’ve said before, I hate being the common decency cop but we do put a premium on respectful debate. We’ve all seen too many forums that have devolved into name calling and we’re determined not to let that happen to redefinED.

There is no need for a conspiracy ‘theory’…this is really happening. Follow the money.

Hi Donna and others,
Again, I appreciate all of you taking time out to comment. It is hugely important to follow the money, but it is also important to follow the results. A common thread in the comments is that those in the Florida “ed reform” camp are out to privatize public schools. Another repeated suggestion is Florida public schools either haven’t improved or have gotten worse in the past 10 or 15 years.

I think it’s clear from NAEP scores, AP results and grad rates that Florida’s public school students and public school teachers have made some of the biggest gains in the nation over that time – as some of you know, I’ve written about this many times – but I know many of you disagree. So I’d like to fall back, for now, on a question I’ve asked here before: What state or states do you think have made the most academic progress over the past 10 or 15 years? And what indicators are you using to determine that?

Conspiracy theories are products of the imagination. If you have documentation and evidence that collaboration and coordination are going on it is not a product of your imagination. The only people trying to divert people by name calling their proof with “conspiracy theories” are the people who are conspiring!

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