In a stunning defense of disgraced education commissioner Tony Bennett, Jeb Bush picked up his pen today in an attempt to save Bennett’s legacy – and perhaps his own. He wrote from his perch with Foundation for Florida’s Future. Lets take a look at a few of Bush’s stunning positions as they are published in the Miami Herald:
A man accused of trying to undermine public education, in fact, had dramatically improved it. He took on both the political left and the political right, and that cost him his job. Nobody who objectively assesses the job Tony has done in Florida can conclude he should be leaving it.
Bush is attempting to discredit both his and Bennett’s critics by challenging their objectivity. Bennett lost his credibility and moral authority to oversee any accountability system when he chose to change the grades to serve his own agenda. For Bush to deny damages his own moral authority that he’s assumed for so long on education reform.
Florida’s students will feel the loss of his leadership the most. Those who stooped to nasty political tactics to undermine Tony should be ashamed. They protect their self-interest at the expense of our next generation.
A man of Bush’s stature cannot characterize a careful reading of Bennett’s public record emails as “nasty political tactics” to “protect their self-interest” when it is clear that Bennett was acting in his own political interests and betrayed the public trust. But Bush doubles down on his own denial:
How ironic that the false accusations coming out of Indiana centered around a school that has been successful in improving the academic achievement of poor children, the very children who had been ignored for decades under the adult-centered model of education.
False accusations? The Bennett emails speak for themselves. They serve as a timeline of his actions and decision-making processes. Bush’s reference to the charter school students at Christel House is the sort of sanctimonious exploitation of children Bush and the education reform movement use to justify their ends justifies the means game plan.
Bush’s full-throated defense Bennett says more about him than it does about Bennett. His inability to find any fault with Bennett’s actions shows him – and likely both of his educations foundations – to be in serious denial. This denial furthermore demonstrates an inability and unwillingness to engage in self-reflection and assessment. Not a good thing for the national public education policy they are advancing.
The constant tweaking of Florida’s school grade formula and Bennett’s clear manipulations of Indiana’s grades have revealed they are willing to manipulate the system they designed to get results they want. Bush and his foundations are quickly showing they cannot be trusted to advance education policy – especially if they continue on this current path.