Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee urged Republicans on Friday to “stop the fight” regarding Common Core and instead consider the standards’ possible benefits.
The clash over the standards, Huckabee said, simply “sheds blood” within the party while doing nothing to actually help students. He also said the battle created the appearance of a sharp ideological division where there isn’t one.
“I don’t know of any conservative who wants to dumb down America’s schools. I don’t know of any student who would benefit,” Huckabee said.
Last February, Huckabee had criticized Common Core as “radioactive” and labeled it a “dead” brand as opposition mounted. Huckabee attributed its decline to a rising association of the standards with centrally-planned, agenda-driven curricula and the collection of student data, associations that supporters of the standards claim are unjustified.
Huckabee referenced these earlier comments on Friday and said he still believed them, but that it meant the fight over Common Core had to end rather than be intensified.
“I don’t want to fight over the program. I want to fight for students,” he added.
Huckabee’s comments were made during a press conference he held in Washington, D.C., alongside the leaders of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), a national group of Hispanic evangelical pastors.
Huckabee and the NHCLC, which has officially endorsed Common Core, were announcing an upcoming effort to promote higher school standards in an attempt to close the achievement gap between Hispanic and white students. As part of the effort, thousands of pastors plan to promote higher education standards during sermons on Sunday, Sept. 7.
The comments, while hardly major praise for Common Core, put Huckabee at odds with several other potential 2016 contenders in the Republican Party, most notably Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has spent the last few months fighting fiercely to torpedo the standards in his state. Instead, Huckabee’s statements put him closer to the view of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who supports Common Core as one of many education reform methods he has promoted since leaving office.
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