Jeb Bush confronted criticism of Common Core during an appearance in Washington, blasting it as "purely political."
"If you're comfortable with mediocrity, fine," Bush said.
He appeared at the National Press Club in support of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who decried a U.S. Department of Justice threat against Louisiana's school voucher program.
"There are a lot of people that believe that somehow this is a national takeover of what is the domain of local and state governments ... but in fact these are 45 states that have voluntarily come together to create fewer, higher, deeper standards that, when you benchmark them to the best of the world, they are world class. I'm for that. I'm not for the politics of education. I tire from the politics of education."
He went on: "The fight about Common Core is political. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have huge swaths of the next generation of Americans that can't calculate math. They can't read. Their expectations in their own lives are way too low. And we're not going to be able to sustain this extraordinarily exceptional country unless we challenge every basic assumption on how we do things."
"If you're comfortable with mediocrity, fine. I'm not. And I think most Floridians aren't either. Yeah, there's a political consequence to all this. There is a lot of heat right now. But the simple fact is, no one can defend the lower standards that we have across this country."
Asked if he was concerned about Gov. Rick Scott's stance on Common Core (he supported but has been quiet lately), Bush said: "No. He told me he's committed to Common Core."