‘Common Core’ to Hit the Iowa Airwaves

NYT FDJonathan Martin March 9, 2015

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Good Monday morning from Washington, where spring is in the air and alleviating (real) gridlock is on the agenda. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails continue to be the talk of the town, and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida is enlisting his son to help fill his would-be campaign war chest. We start off the week with a look at what future Iowa caucusgoers will be seeing a lot of: Common Core ads.

When Mr. Bush arrived in Iowa for the first time as a (likely) candidate on Friday, he was greeted with a full-page ad in that day’s Des Moines Register featuring William J. Bennett, the former education secretary, making the case for why conservatives should support the Common Core education standards, which Mr. Bush has backed.

Now, the same group, the Collaborative for Student Success, that ran the Bennett ad is poised to begin airing television commercials in Iowa promoting Common Core to potential Republican caucusgoers. The organization, which is partly funded by the Gates Foundation, is already airing radio spots.

The question is whether Mr. Bush’s allies in the education overhaul movement are doing him any favors. While not backing off his support for Common Core, he has tried to explain to conservative audiences that his priority is high academic standards.

“The pro-Common Core ads that began running in Iowa this week don’t help Bush, I think they hurt,” said Craig Robinson, who writes at TheIowaRepublican.com. “I think Bush can minimize the issue by focusing on his record as governor, which is very conservative.”

That was what Mr. Bush did in his first Iowa speech on Friday, in which he talked extensively about his education overhauls as Florida governor and addressed Common Core only when a voter raised the topic during a question-and-answer session.