All-Star Panel: Reaction to Jeb Bush and Common Core

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 10, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R - FL: Having that baseline accountability matters. But beyond that, I think it has to be pretty clear that the federal government's role ought to be enhance reform at the local and state level, not to impose it, because that doesn't work.

And there should be -- I think there should be prescriptions on what they can't do and what they shouldn't do. They shouldn't authorize, they shouldn't coerce people into taking a certain type of test. They shouldn't mandate or require a certain type of content or curriculum or standards.  There should be none of that. I mean, states ought to be -- that's the traditional place. Most of the money is raised at the state and local level. That's where policy in our federalist system works the best.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush talking about education and the controversial issue of Common Core that may be a problem with him in primaries and caucuses. We are back with the panel. George, what about that explanation right there?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Mr. Bush is a genuine hero of conservative educational reform, voucher system in Florida, charter schools, a quarter of a million people now in charter schools in Florida, 70,000 people receiving tax credit scholarships that gets around constitutional objections, and a wonderful record he has done there.

The problem on Common Core is his critics are talking past one another. He thinks people are objecting primarily to the contents of the standards. There is some of that. But most people feel as I do who oppose Common Core. I don't care if the standards are written by Aristotle, perfected by Shakespeare, approved by Newton, and endorsed by Jefferson. They are wrong because they are the thin end of an enormous federal wedge that will inevitably give you a standard to cause the textbooks to be aligned with the exams, and you will get a national curriculum which is forbidden by law that will come in by stealth and indirection.

Mr. Bush keeps saying we need to have standards. I think almost people – everyone seems to agree, fine, we will have 50 state standards and we will see which ones are best. That's the beauty of federalism.

BAIER: Here is someone who agrees with you, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also talking education this week.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R - LA: When it comes to moving power away from the federal government, and that's obviously the debate today about Common Core. It makes no sense to me that we would have a top-down approach to testing, to curriculum, to standards. It seems to me that it makes no sense to believe that folks in D.C. know better than parents, than teachers, than local leaders. Now, at the beginning when people were opposed to Common Core it was fashionable to dismiss the opponents as crazy, conservative, right wing critics. And then you saw more and more teachers criticize Common Core.


BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: This is obviously a problem for him. I have to say.

BAIER: For Bush, you mean?

POWERS: For Bush, yes. I think it's one of a few problems that he has. But it seems to be one of the bigger ones, that and immigration. But, I have to say people are always talking about how much they want to have leaders who stand up for what they believe in even when it's unpopular.  And here we have somebody who is, I think, clearly a very staunch Republican. He is a good leader. He is somebody who could probably be a great candidate. And the question is whether or not conservative voters are going to be able to say we're willing to sort of give on a few things where we disagree with him.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I don't think there san argument on principle. I think there are two different issues at stake. Do you like or believe in standards, and do you like or believe that it ought to be administered and constructed by the federal government? The answer on the first is yes and the answer on the second is no.

Now, the heresy of Bush is that he seems to believe that you can have a federal standard and somehow you keep it neutral, you keep it out of the hand of liberals. But once you have got it enforced by the Department of Education, even let's say in a Bush administration, perhaps it would be uncorrupted by a liberal ideology, but the minute he leaves office and the next Democrat is in office, we know what happens the way that the federal government has intruded into higher education, into middle school education, all education because once it gets ahold of you, once it has some legislative or financial control, it dictates.

So I think as a matter of prudence, and I think that's where Bush is wrong, leave it out of the hands of the feds because ultimately and inevitably they will corrupt it.

BAIER: Thought we'd spend more time on this. We'll have plenty of time to talk about Hillary Clinton something tells me.


BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see the president's latest message to his critics.

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