Former Florida governor Jeb Bush stood firm in last week's GOP primary debate when he said he was against federal standards for education and swiped at the “Common Core” education initiative.
When prompted with a question about his role in the Bloomberg Philanthropies and their track record of supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood, Jeb claimed:
“I joined the Bloomberg Foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s shared commitment for meaningful education reform. That’s why I was on it.”
But Bush's insistence that his role was primarily for helping and aiding education in America can also prove to be problematic with a powerful wing of the GOP which is strongly opposed to Common Core.
Bush previously served on the board of directors at Bloomberg Philanthropies. While he was there, they contributed heavily to advancing Common Core.
In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies gave “generous financial support” to America Achieves. According to a 2013 article from The Commercial Appeal, America Achieves aimed to assist teachers for “improving classroom rigor through the Common Core State Standards.”
Another group which benefited immensely from Bloomberg Philanthropies while Bush was on the board was Education Post, which was chaired by Peter Cunningham, a former communications staffer for Secretary of Education and ardent Common Core supporter Arne Duncan.
Howard Wolfson, an advisor to Bloomberg Philanthropies, described what he saw as the goals and importance of Education Post:
“There hasn’t really been an organization dedicated to sharing the successes of education reform around the country... There is also an awful lot of misperception around what [education] reform is, and there hasn’t been an organization... focused on correcting those misimpressions.”
On Education Post's website, they describe Common Core as a “local decision” and “a teacher’s method is a classroom-by-classroom decision.”
In regard to Bush's role at Bloomberg Philanthropies, which stemmed from Jeb's relationship with former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, campaign spokesperson Allie Brandenburger told IJReview:
“As a board member of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Governor Bush did not vote on or approve individual projects or programs. Governor Bush and Mayor Bloomberg disagree on several policy areas, including Planned Parenthood. They do share a passion for reforming education, which was Governor Bush’s focus on the board.”
Bush has been holding relatively firm near the top of the GOP since his announcement. As recently as Monday, a Rasmussen poll places him neck-and-neck with Florida Senator Marco Rubio in second place, behind real estate mogul Donald Trump.