“Jeb Bush’s Education Foundation Makes Unsupported Claims, Ignores Facts to Push Agenda”

UPDATED at end

In a blistering review prepared by Dr. William J.Mathis,  Jeb Bush’s presentation for  the nation’s state lawmakers is said to “make unsupported and unsupportable claims.”

The review was in part sponsored by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Here is their press release:

EAST LANSING, Mich. (June 30, 2011) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s so-called education reforms that he’s pushing through presentations to state
lawmakers rest on unsupported claims and hand-picked evidence, according to a new academic review released today.

Bush’s presentation, “Florida’s Formula for Student Achievement,” was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by William J. Mathis,
managing director of Colorado-Boulder’s National Education Policy Center (NEPC). The review was produced by the NEPC with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Released under the banner of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Bush presentation claims that six “reforms” — assigning simplistic letter grades
to schools; high-stakes testing; imposing newgraduation requirements; bonus pay
for teachers; alternative teacher credentialing; and schools of choice —caused gains in fourth-grade reading scores in Florida.

Instead of a comprehensive and objective consideration of the impact of Florida’s policies, Bush’s presentation “is clearly an advocacy tool designed for advancing a particular set of reform proposals,” Mathis wrote in his review. This has resulted in a misleading presentation, with Bush promoting several policies that reputable research has shown to be ineffective or even harmful.

“Fundamentally, Mr. Bush’s presentation is based on the fallacious causal claim that his selected set of loosely coupled reforms introduced in Florida
between 1992 and 2011 caused fourth-grade reading score gains,” Mathis wrote in his review. “No evidence is provided to sustain this linkage. Further, this
claim ignores the fact that some of the favored reforms were implemented as late as 2010, and some are not yet implemented.”

Moreover, Bush’s presentation resembles and shares graphics with a report by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank whose report has been
repackaged for various states. The Heritage report’s lead author is now on Bush’s staff.

Policymakers should ignore Bush’s salesmanship and look instead to solid, objective research evidence, Mathis said.

Find Mathis’ review and a link to Bush’s presentation at http://www.greatlakescenter.org.Bush’s Michigan presentation is available from the review’s author. A similar PowerPoint presentation from Mr. Bush is available on the web at:

The Think Twice think tank review project, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with
timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review is also available on the National Education Policy Center website at:


As the study focuses on the actual presentation made by Bush, it represents the most focused criticism to date of the former Florida governor. Bush’s vision for Florida’s system on education has been realized through Rick Scott’s pen. With his assertions being so effectively challenged, he’s been called out. With news today that more Florida schools got A’s than every before, its fair to wonder why the state needed even more reform.

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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