GOP Candidates Present Their Visions For Education At The Campbell Brown Education Forum
Former CNN reporter Campbell Brown held an education forum in New Hampshire today, where many GOP presidential candidates were given the opportunity to try to distinguish themselves in the crowded primary field based on their visions for education.
Unsurprisingly Common Core, the shared set of goals and expectations developed by teachers and adopted by 43 states, was a main topic of conversation. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was an early supporter of Common Core, tampered his enthusiasm for the standards at today’s event saying, “If people don’t like Common Core, fine – just make sure your standards are much higher than the ones you had before.” Ohio Governor John Kasich took a similar position, but defended his decision to keep the standards in place. But he added, “On the other hand, I know the public has been very concerned about this.” Later, Brown pushed the candidates to explain their withdrawal from the Common Core and was quick to point out that Jindal had no problem voluntarily accepting Race to the Top dollars.
The public has indeed been concerned about Common Core, but that is largely due to misinformation about the standards. But a new PPP poll, commissioned by the Center for American Progress, found that while confusion about the standards persists, the goals of the Common Core are incredibly popular. In fact support for goals of the Common Core was higher than support for baseball, bacon and kittens. See the results of the poll here.
Another focus of today’s forum was Title I portability, a popular conservative policy that eliminates the targeting of federal funding to schools and districts with the highest concentrations of students living in poverty. Jeb Bush, who has touted his education record on the campaign trail and painted himself as a moderate candidate in an increasingly extreme field, promoted Title I portability in his speech saying, “I’d love to see this notion of portability of federal money.” Bush also went all in on his support for school vouchers, despite the fact that there is no evidence linking vouchers with improved student outcomes. During the second half of the summit, Jindal threw his weight behind what he called “backpack funding,” saying if he had to choose one education reform, it would be school choice. Christie reiterated that parents should choose where their kids go to school.
By eliminating the targeting of federal funding to schools and districts with the most need, Title I portability would have a reverse Robin Hood effect on school districts, allowing federal funding that currently goes to schools with the most low-income students to flow out of those districts and into richer school districts. The graphic below shows the effect portability would have on some districts:
BOTTOM LINE: Many GOP candidates have feigned concern for middle-class Americans with promises to “make opportunity common again” and restore greatness, but promoting harmful policies like Title I portability show they are more interested in their political future than investing in our kids.
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