Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is standing by his support for the Common Core school standards rejected by a segment of the Republican Party's most conservative members, including other potential presidential candidates.
Common Core standards are a set of voluntary reading, language arts and math goals created by a bipartisan team of governors and adopted in more than 40 states. Some Republicans view them as federally mandated curriculum, especially in light of the Obama administration's support for them.
"Raising expectations and having accurate assessments of where kids are is essential for success, and I'm not going to back down on that," Bush said during a congressional fundraiser in suburban Des Moines on Friday night.
Bush is receiving the most attention in the wide open Republican race. On the Democratic side, Hillary Rodham Clinton has a commanding lead over other potential candidates, according to polls.
Deflecting questions about why some potential Republican presidential prospects have shifted on the issue, Bush told reporters after the event: "I know what I believe. I believe in higher standards that develop critical thinking skills."
Among those changing their views of Common Core is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who proclaimed support for the standards in 2013 but has more recently expressed concerns about them. Another one-time Common Core backer and presidential prospect, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, has been relentless in his criticism of the education standards, calling them a "scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum."
Headlining a fundraiser for first-term Rep. David Young, Bush was visiting to Iowa for the first time as a presidential prospect. He planned to participate in an agriculture policy forum Saturday in Des Moines and meet Republican activists in Cedar Rapids.
Bush is scheduled next weekend to visit New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary scheduled for 2016. He planned to visit South Carolina, the second primary on the 2016 schedule, later in the month.