So the Jeb Bush US Tour continued in Texas yesterday only this time with son, George in tow. From the Associated Press on KHOU.com.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his rising-political-star son, George P. Bush, urged Texas on Tuesday to dismantle the “monopoly of public education” by dramatically expanding access to charter schools, embracing online learning and overhauling how teachers are evaluated.
But neither man offered any hints about his political future.
The elder Bush, who is often mentioned as a possible contender for president in 2016, told an education forum organized by the Texas Business Leadership Council, “I urge you to be big and bold, and if people get offended, so what?”
“Politics can’t always be like mamby-pamby land,” said Bush, who said America’s public schools have for too long been organized to best suit the “economic needs of adults” such as unionized teachers and school administrators, rather than students.
Floridians have always known that Bush feels this way, but he never dared dropping this kind of Hateorade in a place where a Florida reporter would hear it. Speaking in a state more red than a Radio Flyer, Bush knew this red meat would play well.
But Bush’s rhetoric is becoming easier to fact check and dismiss. Yesterday’s release of the prospectus from one of his top financial backers in Pearson, revealed which adults were having their “economic needs” met. The “monopoly’ that exists now is controlled by Bush’s cartel of backers.
What Jeb Bush show is complete without some overplay of the Florida model? Bush didn’t disappoint:
Bush said that the Florida Virtual School, the nation’s oldest and largest vendor, now offers 400,000 courses via Internet, and 45 percent of Florida students currently are enrolled in charter schools, online classes or some other form of learning other than traditional public schools….
But Bush said public schools here and elsewhere have become “a public, unionized monopoly” and that the only way to weaken it is to expanded school choice while tightening teacher evaluation standards and limiting tenure.
Bush probably left through the side door without taking questions like he did after parting the waters inside the Florida House two weeks ago. His act doesn’t work if he has to entertain tricky questions about the “imploding” of Florida’s accountability system that legislators are having to deal with next month. Nor does he want to admit that his hand-picked education commissioner, Tony Bennett, has been forced to talk Plan B on Bush’s common core initiative that Pearson was going to cash in on with PARCC tests.
He inflates the percentage of students enrolled in the options of his choosing without telling Texans that a plurality of those students are enrolled in an online class because he rammed through a mandate that required it for graduation. Moreover, a shocking number of high school students – victims of his test-based curriculum – are enrolled in online credit recovery classes which all are run by other financial backers of Bush. Much of the expansion of charter schools in Florida has been leveraged by legislative fiat that Bush’s foundation authored.
Bush’s reforms in Texas don’t enjoy the easy path that they do in Florida where he still controls the republican party. Even in Indiana where Tony Bennett once ruled, republicans are halting common core. Same story in Alabama. Bush twisted choice ideals benefit his financial backers. But he doesn’t want states to have their own choices on curriculum. The jig is up on Bush’s choice for me and not for thee.