SHERWOOD — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised the education proposals of Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson during a visit Tuesday to Central Arkansas.

SHERWOOD — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised the education proposals of Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson during a visit Tuesday to Central Arkansas.


Bush and Hutchinson spoke at Lisa Academy-North, a charter school in Sherwood, after touring the school, talking to students and viewing students’ science projects. Hutchinson, a former 3rd District congressman, is locked in a tight race with Democrat Mike Ross, a former 4th District congressman.


"I wholeheartedly support your efforts to try to bring education into the 21st century," Bush said after Hutchinson introduced him. "No state has been able to achieve what you’re aspiring to, and I know you’ll do it, which is to have every school irrespective of where it’s located in the state to be able to have computer science as one of the core subjects to be able to graduate."


Bush told Hutchinson, "Your whole education plan is right on target, and I think the state and the children of Arkansas will do well with your leadership."


Bush has been one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of the Common Core education standards. Some conservative groups have sought to abolish the standards, and Hutchinson has said that as governor he would review them.


Asked to comment on the standards Tuesday, Bush said high standards are needed in schools for America and states to succeed, whatever they are called.


"Whether they’re called Common Core or Best Arkansas Standards, whatever we have today need to be higher. They need to be assessed faithfully, and we need to assure that more than a third of our kids are college and/or career ready," he said.


Hutchinson said, "I agree with everything he just said. I have consistently said that whatever standards we resolve, that we need to make sure they’re high standards and have high expectations for our students."


Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and the son of former President George H.W. Bush, is widely seen as a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate. He told reporters Tuesday, "It’s a year-end decision."


Ross’s education plan includes spending $37 million to expand access to pre-kindergarten education. Hutchinson has said he supports fully funding the existing program but has questioned whether Ross’ plan would be the best use of taxpayer dollars.


Ross said Tuesday in a statement, "While I’m on my Jobs First tour listening to and visiting with job creators and working families across Arkansas, Congressman Hutchinson continues to only listen to his Washington and Wall Street allies. This should concern voters because while my focus will be on Arkansas and growing the middle class, Congressman Hutchinson’s focus will be on returning the favors from his out-of-state partisan allies."


Bush is the latest in a series of high-profile Republicans who have stumped recently for Arkansas candidates, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Arkansas Democrats, meanwhile, have enlisted former President Bill Clinton to appear at a series of upcoming rallies.