Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

“Backbone” is One Word for It


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in New Hampshire stated that he has demonstrated “backbone” on Common Core State Standards.  “The way I’ve sorted it out is: I think you need to be genuine, I think you need to have a backbone. I think you need to able to persuade people this is a national crisis, this is a national priority,” Bush said to a group of business and education executives.

As an Iowan I respect a candidate standing for core values.  It’s something that is rare in a candidate as we have seen with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie being all over the place on the subject of Common Core (depending on what state he’s in).  Tell us where you stand and let us then decide.  We are not looking for people who will tickle our ears and tell us what we want to hear.

However, there is a fine line between having a backbone and stubbornness.  Governor Bush seems to  have crossed that line when he ignores the concerns of teachers and parents.  We also want our leadership to be responsive, and it doesn’t appear that Governor Bush will be on this issue.  Also, what does it say about a candidate who claims top-down, flawed national standards are part of his “core values”?

Bush may be beating his chest in New Hampshire with a friendly group, but he’s been relatively silent on Common Core in Iowa, depending on Bill Bennett’s attempt (in vain) to reframe the Common Core as conservative.  So far Bush has avoided Iowa’s grassroots activists as well.

Having a backbone requires being honest and facing one’s critics. Maybe Bush doesn’t have as much backbone as he claims after all.

Shane Vander Hart is the online communications manager for American Principles in Action, a frequent contributor to, and the editor of Iowa-based

Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart, an Iowa native, is the online communications manager for the American Principles Project and a frequent contributor to Shane is also the Editor-in-Chief for, a popular Christian conservative blog.

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