Bush Foundation Continues to Spin and Evade Questions on Impropriety

Foundation for Excellence in Education CEO Patricia Levesque has been busy writing letters to the editor as a method of responding to In the Public Interest’s  report which focused on her foundation’s emails with state officials. Just two days after a shrill response to a college professor’s letter, Levesque was back at it, calling  last Sunday’s Tampa Bay Tribune report from William March “innuendo in search of non-existent impropriety.”  After the predictable defense of the foundations work with cherry-picked data, Levesque wrote this:

We are quite open about our efforts to promote reform in states. Read our website. In all the emails the Tribune refers to, there is not one example of a foundation donor receiving special treatment in any state. We don’t lobby for any group or corporation. We simply promote reforms that have been proven to produce results. Our contributors come and go, but our agenda doesn’t change.

If having corporate sponsors for annual gatherings is a crime, then every organization in America is guilty, including the teachers’ unions. And as for our annual summit last year, why didn’t the Tribune send a reporter and see for itself what goes on? You would have found a bunch of wonks sitting in a hotel for two days discussing education policy.

Adults vested in the status quo of public education are threatened when we put students first. That is why the Florida Education Association, whose mission is protecting union jobs, yearns for the good old days when there was no accountability for all those kids falling through the cracks. That is why pro-union groups such as In the Public Interest oppose us. Yet you quoted the organization’s director without disclosing his strident opposition to education reform.

Education is far too important for such misleading and incomplete reporting.

What’s “misleading and incomplete” is Levesque lawyerly defense. She’s smart enough to know not to directly advocate for one of their corporate sponsors. They don’t have to.  Their sponsors understand that the legislative priorities that Bush and Levesque advance are what truly benefit them. The foundation’s policy advocacy for charter schools, online learning and standardized testing regimes creates and maintains markets for their products.

Levesque is furthermore being disingenuous in her suggestion to take a look at their website. If they were as open as she says, they wouldn’t have taken down their list of corporate sponsors not long after Scathing Purple Musings called attention to them in 2011. The link no longer exists.

It’s clear that the primary PR response thus far to the emails by Jeb Bush’s foundation has been to attack the messenger. By ignoring the content and intention of the emails with spin, Levesque’s is confirming there’s a there, there.


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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3 Responses to Bush Foundation Continues to Spin and Evade Questions on Impropriety

  1. Rory Robinson says:

    They are putting students first by attacking them first. Nothing is more detrimental to students than weaking their home schools, offering mainly online instructions, and testing them incessantly.

  2. “Status quo” is an interesting term that is used frequently, in a pejorative manner, by reform/charter industry PR folks as a criticism of public schools. Almost always linked to unions (here and in most reform uses of “status quo” it means the ineffectiveness of public education if any professional unionized educators are involved), this person even suggests a “unions do it too” defense of corporate funding, lobbying and influence.

    Maybe the disconnect these reformers have experienced from the lives of average Americans have disconnected them from what the true “status quo” is. For a decade or more, funding for schools has dried up, mandates have increased, and students become more of a challenge as we see families devastated by privatizers who look to milk this nation and it’s people for all it is worth.

    Public schools and educators give everything they have to adjust to this damage and the hurdles policy-makers and privatizers place between them and their students, and the existence of unions prevents a decent of the public commons into a private playground where the weakest are exploited while the fattest grow more.

    That’s the status quo. Public schools were already losing, but for some it just isn’t happening fast enough.

  3. Sandra says:

    Ms. Levesque is certainly busy here in Florida and beyond. Missouri is but ONE MORE state with parents, community members, and taxpayers with real concerns about the Common Core initiative the Foundation absolutely supports. She writes that Missouri can not afford to stop now because of all the investment. I don’t know where the Foundation thinks the money-tree is in these harsh economic times for taxpayers to fund an experiment and an unrealistic implementation. I hope Missouri legislators will be REAL stewards of the public trust, maintain fiscal responsibility, put needs of students before the needs of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.


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