Education a new defining issue for 2016 GOP class

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 28 2014 1:43 p.m. MDT

Similarly, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in Iowa last month, "I don't think the federal government has any role dictating the contents of curricula." Cruz's audience, a convention of Christian home-school advocates, form an influential bloc in Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses.

This month, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another potential GOP presidential candidate, publicly reversed his support for the standards, citing the "reasonable objections" of parents.

Jeb Bush, a vocal proponent of the standards, has criticized reversals such as Jindal's.

"I just don't feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country. And others have," Bush told Fox News this month.

Whitney Neal, of the tea party-backed FreedomWorks, said objections were "brought to us by our members," and included concerns that teaching to achieve test scores would inhibit education.

"I think our membership is indicative of how people think in the country," she said.

But opinions about Common Core may not be one-sided, according to John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster whose past clients include the conservative Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth and dozens of Republican candidates.

McLaughlin said his research shows that a majority of devout Republicans support Common Core when they are told the standards are voluntary and limited to math and reading.

"When it's about standards, Republican primary voters strongly support it," McLaughlin said.

AP Education Writer Kimberly Hefling contributed to this report from Washington; AP writer Brian Skoloff contributed from Arizona.

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