VIDEO: 4 Things to Know About Jeb Bush’s K-12 Platform Ahead of the Education Summit
This video is part of a series created to introduce the political leaders who will be speaking at the New Hampshire Education Summit on August 19th. Make sure to watch all the videos and read the complete series. You can also watch the Summit live on August 19th at The74Million.org. More information can be found at EdSummits2015.org.
Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida, is one of the six confirmed Republican candidates participating in The Seventy Four’s election summit on August 19th in Manchester, New Hampshire. Bush is well-known for his advocacy in the field of education.
During his time as governor from 1999 to 2007, Bush promoted the Common Core and implemented a series of policies known as the "Florida formula" or "A+ Plan for Education." This plan included vouchers, school grades, and online learning.
Before the summit, here are four important things to know about Bush’s education record in Florida and his K-12 platform. Don’t forget to check out Bush’s baseball card!
Florida had a voucher program for students in failing schools, but it was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2006. The court ruled that the state constitution prohibits state funding of a separate private education system. Instead, Florida implemented a voucher system funded by businesses, which received equivalent tax credits. Teachers and others tried to block the new program through a lawsuit, but it was thrown out by a judge who said they did not have the right to challenge it. Supporters of the program argued that if it were shut down, 70,000 students would have to go back to public schools, which would be more expensive than educating them in private schools.
Newsweek published an article that analyzed the outcomes of Florida students after the implementation of the "Florida formula." The article, written by a fellow from the conservative Heritage Foundation, found that overall test scores were strong, especially for black, Hispanic, and poor students. However, critics, including teachers unions and others, argued that students were only good at taking tests and not actually improving their learning. They also highlighted that the voucher program took funding away from public schools. Valerie Strauss, a blogger for The Washington Post, interviewed Professor Sherman Dorn, who challenged the supposed successes. Dorn pointed out that while Florida students showed clear improvement in fourth-grade reading, the results for math and eighth-grade reading and math were not as impressive.
After leaving the governor’s office, Bush established the Foundation for Excellence in Education. The foundation aimed to implement parts of the "Florida formula" nationwide, such as charter schools, A-to-F school grades, vouchers, third-grade literacy requirements, and online learning. The foundation’s efforts have been successful, with many states adopting third-grade literacy requirements and expanding charter schools and voucher programs. However, critics have raised concerns about the foundation’s relationship with Chiefs for Change, an organization made up of current and former state education secretaries, and the businesses supporting the foundation. Emails obtained through public records requests suggest an improper relationship, with critics alleging that major corporations used the foundation as a way to push for policies that would benefit them financially.
Bush is one of only two candidates in the GOP field, along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who still publicly supports the Common Core State Standards. During the first Republican debate, he answered a question about those opposed to the Common Core, stating that he did not consider them a "fringe group of critics."
My support lies in raising the bar for academic standards in a manner that is intellectually honest. I strongly advocate for an abundance of school choices and the elimination of social promotion. Being the former governor of Florida, I have successfully implemented statewide voucher programs not just once, but thrice, making me well-equipped to tackle this issue.
During my tenure, we witnessed a remarkable improvement in student achievement across the board. This can be attributed to our commitment to high standards, stringent accountability measures, the discontinuation of social promotion in third grade, and widespread availability of school choice. Additionally, we faced the challenge of challenging the teachers union and emerged victorious, proving that this is the right path to follow.
Furthermore, it is gratifying to note that low-income students in Florida experienced the greatest gains in the entire country. Our efforts also resulted in a significant 50 percent improvement in the graduation rate. These accomplishments exemplify my vision for education.
Following the debate, the Bush campaign disseminated the candidate’s strong support for these standards to donors and other individuals. According to CNN, they expressed their satisfaction, stating that he "knocked it out of the park" and received "the best response in our online metrics."
Photo by Getty Images
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