School & District Management

List of GOP Presidential Hopefuls Continues to Swell

By Andrew Ujifusa & Alyson Klein — July 07, 2015 2 min read
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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who officially entered the 2016 presidential race June 15, has perhaps the most extensive record on education among all the Republican presidential hopefuls.

Mr. Bush, who served two terms as Florida’s governor before leaving office in 2007, has since left his role as head of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the national K-12 policy group he founded. He had used the foundation to lobby other states to adopt policies similar to those he championed when he was governor regarding school choice and literacy.

As governor, Mr. Bush successfully pushed his state to adopt a plan holding schools accountable using A-F letter grades. Under him, the state also instituted a voucher program, later struck down by the state Supreme Court. And in 2001, he signed into law a tax-credit scholarship program used by about 70,000 low-income students in the most recent school year.

In 1999, Florida also allowed alternative certification for teachers. And in 2003, the state ended social promotion for 3rd graders who could not demonstrate literacy.

More recently, although many other GOP presidential hopefuls have come out against the Common Core State Standards, Mr. Bush has vigorously defended them.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

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In his newly launched bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal brings a K-12 record heavy on positions involving the common standards and school choice.

In 2012, for example, he approved a statewide expansion of vouchers to cover a greater range of students based on their household income and the rating of the public schools they attended.

On the issue of the common core, Gov. Jindal was initially a supporter but now opposes the standards, as well as the aligned tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. He has made numerous, albeit unsuccessful, attempts in state court to ditch the standards and PARCC. He still has an anti-common-core lawsuit against the federal government moving ahead in federal court.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who announced his candidacy for the presidency on June 30, has a complex record on education policy that has attracted fierce supporters and detractors.

The Republican, who took office in 2010, once backed the common core, but officially repudiated the standards in May. He has said the state would begin work on reviewing and improving them.

His efforts to revamp the Newark district have been controversial. His 2011 pick as superintendent of the state-run district, Cami Anderson, recently said she would step down, and Gov. Christie has said the state would return Newark schools to local control.

Gov. Christie also altered the state’s laws governing teacher tenure in 2012, making tenure harder to obtain. He earned a reputation early on as a K-12 budget-cutter, but in his 2013 re-election campaign, he said the state was providing a record level of school funding. The fiscal 2016 budget he just signed, however, has reignited claims that he’s slashed support for public education.

Real Estate Developer Donald Trump

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Real estate developer Donald Trump, who announced his intention to join the 2016 GOP presidential-primary field June 16, has made clear where he differs from at least one rival on the hot-button issues of the common core.

“The last thing we need is another Bush,” Mr. Trump said of fellow candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at the Iowa Freedom Summit this year, according to a C-SPAN transcript. “He’s totally in favor of common core.”

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A version of this article appeared in the July 08, 2015 edition of Education Week as Fresh Entrants In GOP’s Quest For White House

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