Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the godfather of the reformey-minded Chiefs for Change and an education force in statehouses around the country, has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president.
That news may be the biggest unsurprise ever to education folks who have been following the campaign. After all, one of Romney's top advisers, F. Philip Handy, was the chairman of the Florida state board of education when Bush was governor. Handy is also on the board of Bush's foundation. And of course, President George W. Bush's former secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, is already on Romney's team.
But it's one more sign that Romney is lining up most of the Republicans who see some role for the federal government when it comes to accountability.There are plenty of folks in the GOP who want to see the U.S. Department of Education eliminated (or limited to just one person doling out advice to states on best practices.)
Romney was asked over the weekend, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, whether he would get rid of the department if he's elected president. His answer on the department's future wasn't definitive.
"Not necessarily. It may be combined with other agencies. There will be a rule, meaning that, for instance, the federal government provides funding to local school districts for care of disabled children, that will be maintained.But the reach of the Department of Education into the states has to be pulled back. Education has to be managed at the state level, not at the federal level. Will there be any flow through of funds to the states? Yes."
And he sees a clear role for the feds in pushing back against teachers' unions.
"Those federal teachers unions have too much power, in some cases, they overwhelm the states, they overwhelm the local school districts. We have got to put the kids first and put these teacher's unions behind," he said. And Romney also reiterated his support for testing.
Another interesting campaign development?
In a campaign documentary "The Road We've Traveled" President Barack Obama gave a quiet shout-out to the role his administration's signature education competition, Race to the Top, had in forwarding the Common Core State Standards Initiative, by linking RTTT to "higher standards in 46 states." (Hat tip to Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute and Flypaper fame.)
I'd bet Common Core fans—who don't want to see the effort politicized, since that may drive GOP-controlled states away—are probably hoping that the Obama campaign folks put the kibosh on statements like that.