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March 20, 2014

Jeb: Follow through on Common Core

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday urged state officials to follow through on Common Core education standards despite what he called an “avalanche” of criticism from those who oppose them.

Bush said at an education forum with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., that the standards are key to improving educational achievement around the country.

“This is a real-world, grown-up approach to a real crisis that we have,” said Bush, who later brushed off reporters’ questions about his presidential aspirations. “And it’s been mired in politics.

“Trust me I know,” he said. “There are not a whole lot of people who are standing up to this avalanche.”

Bush ascribed the opposition to Common Core to what he called “myths” about the standards being part of a federal takeover of local classrooms.

Common Core standards spell out what math and reading skills students should have in each grade. They are designed to make students think and reason more than they do with traditional classroom work.

Tennessee is among the vast majority of states that have adopted the standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers with help from teachers, parents and experts.

But Tennessee is also among the states grappling with a backlash against Common Core, especially by conservative groups.

Haslam on Tuesday embarked on a hastily arranged statewide tour to try to drum up support for Common Core amid moves by state lawmakers seeking to delay the standards and related testing by two years.

Alexander, a former two-term governor and U.S. education secretary, is running for a third term in the Senate this year.

He has voiced support for education initiatives originating with the states, but has introduced legislation seeking to keep federal waiver decisions from being based on participation in programs like Common Core.

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