In response to last week’s release of In the Public Interests report based on emails obtained through an FOIA request, Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education didn’t shoot the messenger. They too aim at a union strawman who wasn’t there. Mary Ellen Klas has the foundation’s statement in the Tampa Bay Times:
Jaryn Emhof, spokeswoman for the foundation sent the Herald/Times the following response:
“It certainly is not surprising that In the Public Interest, a union-backed organization, opposes school choice and the expansion of digital education.
“And, it is hardly a secret that the Foundation for Excellence in Education (Excel in Ed) is committed to school choice and openly offers its expertise to legislators and policy makers interested in improving their education systems. It’s on our website.
“The majority of Excel in Ed’s operational expenses, including salaries, are funded by private foundations, non-profits and philanthropies which do not sell to the K-12 market. We do accept sponsorships from corporations to help fund our annual Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform, in the same manner that unions and other organizations accept the same kind of sponsorships from companies.
“The notion that Gov. Jeb Bush, who has spent the past 20 years as a passionate advocate for education reform, is profiting from this involvement is beyond ridiculous. He has devoted thousands of hours to this cause without compensation.
“We believe families, particularly low-income families, are best served when they can choose the best schools for their children. We believe digital technology will revolutionize education, something already taking place at the university level.
“Students have achieved remarkable success as a result of these education reforms. And, we take great pride in that.”
Does the union angle stick? Perhaps not. In the Public Interest is a subsidiary of Partnership for Working Families. The list of sponsors on Partnerships website includes leftward leaning groups but no union entities. In the Public Interest describes it’s mission this way:
In the Public Interest is a comprehensive resource center on privatization and responsible contracting. It is committed to equipping citizens, public officials, advocacy groups, and researchers with the information, ideas, and other resources they need to ensure that public contracts with private entities are transparent, fair, well-managed, and effectively monitored, and that those contracts meet the long-term needs of communities
The report was based on emails which were obtained through an FOIA request between the Bush Foundation and public employees of several states. Concerns about the Bush Foundations political activities being done on behalf of their donors can no longer be brushed aside as innuendo. The emails are smoking guns.
While I have not yet read any emails from other states, I’ve been though those involving FEE’s contact with FLDOE staff. I’ve yet to find anything written by Public Interests which accuses Bush of personally profiting. For the Bush Foundation to make this claim about the report is a clear attempt at spinning what’s found in the emails.
There were four mothers of public school children taking part in the phone conference when the report was released this week. The Bush Foundation doesn’t want the public to know that real parents are opposed to their agenda and always play the union card when backed into a corner. And if they really didn’t believe there was an appearance problem with their donors, they wouldn’t have taken the list down from their website last year. Unlike the watchdog group they falsely disparaged.