Jeb Bush and John Kasich get failing grades on Common Core, while Rand PaulRand PaulGOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Rand Paul skeptical about Romney as secretary of State MORE and Ted CruzTed CruzArk., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test Senate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules MORE are the only Republicans running for president to escape blame on the thorny education issue, according to a new analysis from a conservative think tank.
The Hill got an exclusive first look at a report card produced by the American Principles in Action that grades the GOP candidates on how fiercely they oppose Common Core, the set of education standards that were adopted by 46 states five years ago but have since become toxic with the conservative base
Nearly the entirety of the Republican presidential field is opposed to Common Core. Even those such as Bush who support Common Core argue that it has been hijacked by the federal government and wrongly imposed on the states. Or they seek to frame it as a higher standard that can serve as an alternative to the status quo.
However, the APIA grades show that few Republicans have a consistent record on the matter. And the 55-page report is evidence that for many conservatives, it’s not enough for the candidates to merely qualify past support or argue in favor of higher standards.
“The Common Core is a touchstone for Republicans, and they should be making a bigger deal of it,” the authors wrote. “People are fed up with the Common Core and the terribly expensive and overbearing Common Core tests. They view the federal government’s involvement in education policy as a colossal failure that has harmed, not helped, children.”
As could be expected, Bush received a failing grade from the think tank.
“Gov. Bush is perhaps the most outspoken supporter of the Common Core standards in the 2016 field,” the paper states.
Althouugh Common Core standards were developed after Bush left as governor of Florida, he has advocated for the education standards through the foundation he started after leaving office. Some Republicans believe that Common Core represents Bush’s biggest hurdle in seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
On the campaign trail, Bush has steadfastly defended his record on education, arguing that he expanded school choice, made teachers more accountable, raised standards, improved graduation rates for minority students and eliminated social promotion.
Bush has also sought to temper his support for Common Core by saying the federal government should play no role in the creation or implementation of education standards.
He has argued that he supports higher standards across the board, whether through Common Core or some other means.
But the APIA ripped Bush, saying he has “propagated the false narrative that the Common Core standards are merely learning goals and are of high quality.”
“He has turned a blind eye to the reasons underlying opposition to Common Core and instead used straw-man arguments to dismiss opponents as relying on ‘Alice-in-Wonderland logic’,” the report says.
Kasich similarly received a failing grade from the APIA.
The Ohio governor is viewed by many as having the potential to challenge Bush in the establishment lane of the Republican presidential contest, but he carries much of the same baggage as Bush on issues like Common Core and immigration.
“Like Bush, Kasich is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Common Core,” the report says. “His only response to the large and active anti-Common Core grassroots operation in Ohio is to make fun of them.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also scored poorly in the analysis, each getting a D grade.
In May, Christie finished his long evolution on Common Core. He was once a big-time supporter but announced at a campaign rally that after having commissioned a panel to study the education standards, he would pull New Jersey out of Common Core.
However, Christie has said the state will keep administering a test, called PARCC, which relies on some Common Core principles. Critics say Christie is trying to have it both ways, reaping the political windfall of coming out in opposition to Common Core, while continuing to receive federal funds associated with the PARCC test.
“We would look for Christie to lead the effort to replace the Common Core in New Jersey with good standards — not just a ‘review’ leading to a rebrand — and to replace PARCC with an assessment aligned to the new standards,” the report says.
As for Walker, the APIA dinged him over “failure to provide true leadership on the issue.”
“He has not fought the issue with vigor and has thus paved the way for the status quo,” the authors say.
Cruz and Paul topped the list, each getting an A- grade from the APIA.
The senators are co-sponsors on a bill to protect state and local school districts from federal intrusion. In addition, the report lauded them for being the only senatorial presidential candidates to sign a letter from Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck Grassley10 no-brainer ways to cut healthcare costs without hurting quality Senate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Drug pricing debate going into hibernation MORE (R-Iowa) calling for language in an education bill that would prohibit federal funds from going towards the promotion of Common Core.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is suing the federal government to rid his state of Common Core, only managed a B+, for having been an early supporter of the standards.
The candidate grades are below and the full report can be found here.
Ted Cruz: A-
Rand Paul: A-
Bobby Jindal: B+
Rick Perry: B
Rick Santorum: B
Ben Carson: B-
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHospitals gear up for major offensive against ObamaCare repeal 10 no-brainer ways to cut healthcare costs without hurting quality Haley to meet with senators during Washington trip MORE: B-
Carly Fiorina: C+
Mike Huckabee: C
Scott Walker: D+
Jeb Bush: F
John Kasich: F