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.