The Corporate Cash Which Fuels Jeb Bush’s Education Empire


At least Jeb Bush isn’t trying to hide where and who he’s getting his money from. On the website of Foundation for Excellence in Education are the proud shields of the corporate and billionaire financiers who stake Bush’s school privatization takeovers. Two entities – Pearson and Charter Schools USA – have directly benefited in Florida from Bush’s education legislative pushes.

The Pearson Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Pearson’s huge publishing and education corporation drew scrutiny last month over news it had sponsored lavish trips to exotic locations for numerous state level education leaders for summits. Former Florida Ed Commissioner Eric Smith – a close Bush ally – was among them. Pearson has certainly benefitted worldwide from its education businesses as it recorded 31 percent profit gain in the first half of this year. Its not a stretch to see that Pearson’s FCAT  administration failures  weren’t somehow eased by its financial support of Bush’s powerful foundation.

But it still not  clear yet where Eric Smith has landed, and his dealings as education commissioner beg for further scrutiny. When significant flaws in Pearson’s FCAT scoring came to light in  August  2010, the state’s superintendents challenged Smith’s handling  of the issue. I titled my post dealing with Smith’s public dismissive to the Florida Association of District Superintendents as “Shut up, explained Eric Smith to Florida’s School Superintendents.”

Even in the case that Jeb Bush’s intentions are pure, he well knows he’s serving as a rainmaker for billionaires, hedge fund managers and corporations. He also know that his national school reform lobbying is done on their behalf. He’s never asked about this stark reality – let alone had to defend it.

The nation is well versed and has accepted the realities of the defense industries’ lobbying and funding of friendly politicians. Bush understands that his efforts are driving us toward similar cronyism – yet one on steroids. The brave men and women who volunteer to serve in the armed forces for our nation aren’t puppets of profit motivated masters. In Jeb Bush’s world, the people who teach America’ children will be.

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About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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