Putting Education Reform To The Test

Bush Foundation Promoting Common Education Standards Online, On Air

The education foundation founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has launched a new web site and advertising campaign to support the Common Core math and language arts standards facing criticism in many states.

The campaign by the Foundation For Excellence in Education is called “Learn More. Go Further.”

The web site features videos of teachers (they volunteered) answering common questions and explaining the standards, and interactive maps showing where the standards have been challenged. An ad began airing yesterday on television and cable and will run for 10 weeks, said Allison Aubuchon, a spokesman with the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which is sponsoring the campaign.

The advertising campaign in the Tampa Bay region targets local news and cable networks such as Animal Planet, HGTV and The Family Channel.

The teachers, there are four of them, are also spreading the campaign on social media.

“It is important that all Floridians continue to learn about the countless academic gains our state has made and the direction we’re headed as we move to higher standards,” Aubuchon said in a statement. “The campaign and site provide resources and tools to make learning and sharing this information easier.”

The ad references a suit of policies pushed by Bush, including the use of statewide tests to measure student performance and grading schools, based in part, on those test results.

In Florida, critics have asked lawmakers and state leaders to repeal the standards. But legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Scott said they support the standards. That’s because the Florida Board of Education recently approved minor changes to Common Core and renamed them The Florida Standards.

Those changes have not satisfied opponents — both conservative and liberal –who argue Common Core is not an improvement over past standards, limits local control over classroom content and emphasizes the use of high-stakes testing to determine student promotions, school grades and teacher evaluations.

“This is a sign that they are concerned we are winning the debate,” said Laura Zorc, a co-founder of Florida Parents Against Common Core. A similar advertising campaign failed in Indiana two years ago, Zorc said.

Indiana is likely to approve new math and language arts standards next month, our colleagues at StateImpact Indiana reported, and would become the first state to abandon Common Core. Florida and 44 other states fully adopted the Common Core standards.

Opposition to the standards is a growing political problem for Republicans across the country. Activists don’t like the standards, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ExxonMobil and other members of the business community do.

The U.S. Chamber and other business groups launched a national pro-Core advertising effort this week, Politico reported.


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