One week into his presidential campaign, Jeb Bush has published an editorial aiming to burnish his education credentials among conservatives while sharply attacking the positions of Hillary Clinton.
Education has long been seen as one of Bush’s strongest issues, due to his successful record pushing conservative causes such as charter schools and vouchers. But in the last two years it has also become a source of weakness, as Bush’s Republican rivals have aggressively attacked him for supporting Common Core. (RELATED: Will Jeb Bush’s Education Record Win Him The Nomination, Or Destroy Him?)
In an op-ed published Tuesday with the New York Post, Bush tries to mollify conservative concerns while also tearing into Clinton and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
Bush says Clinton, despite her “outsize influence in New York politics,” simply “stood by” while de Blasio worked to “undercut school choice at every turn.” While Clinton has expressed a more moderate position on school choice, Bush argues that her silence shows she can’t be trusted.
“Will former Secretary Clinton continue to put the interests of the entrenched education establishment above the interests of kids in America?” he asks.
While Bush describes de Blasio as a “Clinton protégé,” it’s not clear that Clinton really has the influence over de Blasio he claims. De Blasio has not endorsed Clinton for president, and he skipped a recent campaign event she held in New York.
In contrast to Clinton’s passivity, Bush says that he championed parents while overcoming the fierce opposition of teachers unions.
“During my governorship, we adopted three separate voucher programs and nearly tripled the number of charter schools to spark competition in our public K-12 system. The teachers unions in Tallahassee fought us every step of the way,” Bush writes. “We delivered some of the most dramatic gains in student achievement in the nation, especially among kids in poverty and students with learning disabilities. I am proud that more than 300,000 students in Florida are now benefiting from a school-choice program.”
Bush’s op-ed ends with a pledge intended to please conservatives who think his support of Common Core means he favors federal control of education.
“There should be no doubt about my priorities,” he says. “As president of the United States, I will reduce the power and authority of the federal Department of Education, sending more money and flexibility back to the states so greater school-choice opportunities can be made available to parents and their children.”
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