Jeb Bush’s “Shaky Success Record”

Jeb Bush’s recent hyperbole is that of a man who knows he’s under fire. Consider this from Metro Pulse reporter Cari Wade Gervin:

On Monday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came to Nashville for a press event with Gov. Bill Haslam.

“This is a time of great importance for our country, and this is the single most important thing we can be doing,” Bush stated at one point.

What was this matter of such urgency? Did it involve national security? A fiscal crisis? The battle over gun control?

None of the above. Bush was referring to school vouchers (and, by default, education reform in general). In a brief media avail after the event, Haslam announced that he would indeed be introducing legislation to enact a limited voucher system in Tennessee.

Like most republican governors, its clear that Haslam has fallen under the spell of education reform’s Rasputin. Are some of these man-crushes political posturing? Bush after all is being touted by the media as a presidential candidate – and Bush has done nothing to dispel such speculation – so guys like Haslam might be looking to kiss the ring. Besides, the biggest stack of education corporation poker chips sits in front of him at the table.

Gervin points out that Bush’s Florida model isn’t all that.

While Bush was governor, from 1999 to 2007, the state instituted a series of educational reforms like a statewide voucher system, distance learning, and a universal pre-K program (for which vouchers could be used to send one’s children to church-run preschools).

On Monday Bush said the state had made the “greatest learning gains in the country” thanks to his reforms, which have now become the basis for his non-profit work. But several reports have called those gains into question. A Reuters investigation last fall pointed out that the test scores, which dramatically increased while Bush was in office, have dropped in recent years, and high-school graduation rates still lag behind other large, diverse states such as California and Ohio. Critics also note that studies commissioned by the state have not shown low-income students who use vouchers to attend private schools to have higher test scores than their peers.

Despite that, Bush stated confidently on Monday, “All schools do better when there’s competition.” He compared the use of vouchers to a grocery store with multiple kinds of milk. “World better because of choices [sic]. Radical idea,” Bush said.

Bush knows recent news hasn’t been good from Florida. A close political ally said late last week that Bush’s multiple test-based accountability measures were said to be  “in danger of imploding.” It is these he so desperately needs to call public schools failing for his voucher and charter school schemes to gain traction. Bush’s switch to irresponsible hyperbole  and flippant metaphors  instead of evidence smells like desperation.







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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2 Responses to Jeb Bush’s “Shaky Success Record”

  1. Yes, the world is bettered by the availability of choices that work. As for choices provided by the marketplace that don’t work, we have the words “snake oil.” While the placebo effect may make parents feel good for awhile about their students inflated “As” (which are not tied to standards-based curricula,) promoting vouchers ultimately dis-serves the very students the “movement” purports to rescue. But it makes for terrific rhetoric about “the civil rights issue of our time,” and coupled with Bush’s (quite honorable) stance on immigration, poises Republicans to heal their numerous and infamous weak spots with minority voters. This brilliant strategy has been a long time in the making. Too bad the kids lose out in the process.

    If the “movement” were honest, its members would demand apples-to-apples comparisons between public and voucher schools. But then they’d risk exposing their secret: their “prescription” doesn’t work–particularly not for its target consumers.

    As for the “competition” studies, no other factors were examined in the latest one correlating “competition” to improvement in Florida’s public schools. This “movement” has become as good at gerrymandering the parameters of studies as Florida’s dominant party has at rigging the electoral maps.

    • Maria Schrenger says:

      Jeb Bush is a class A charlatan. He doesn’t care about poor public school students. Actions speak louder than words. He just cares about Pearson (testing co.) – his family friend, making huge profits as well as charter schools run by large corporations making huge profits too. He only cares about public school students if he & his buddies can make a buck off of them. Governor Rick Scott is a charlatan too. The people in FL need to wake up to these evil individuals!

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