From Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal:
The resignation of Tony Bennett in Florida — and the controversy over school grading in his home state of Indiana — has led to plenty of calls for an end to the Sunshine State’s model of school reform. But former Gov. Jeb Bush, who ushered in that plan, sees no reason to do anything but push ahead.
In a speech today at the ALEC conference in Chicago, Bush defended Florida’s system of setting standards, grading schools and holding students back if they couldn’t read decently at third grade.
“We began demanding the best. And we became national leaders in learning gains instead of spending gains,” he said, according to a copy of his speech.
Since his departure from the governor’s office in 2007, Bush has remained an influential player in Florida education and become one on the national stage.
ALEC is an influential, and sometimes controversial, group of conservative state lawmakers that proposes “model legislation” on a wide range of topics, including education. It favors many of the same legislative changes that Bush has advocated.
In his speech, Bush spoke strongly in favor of Common Core standards as well as more choice and more “digital education” options.
He noted that some in the audience might not like Common Core, which has come under attack by some conservatives.
“I respect those who don’t share my views. What I can’t accept are the dumbed down standards and expectations that exist in almost all of our schools today,” he said.
“There will be a painful adjustment period as schools and students adapt to higher expectations. Just look at the results announced in New York this week. Remember, only one third of our students are college or career ready and higher expectations, assessed faithfully, will show that ugly truth
Bush sure doesn’t pick unfriendly audiences, does he? And he sure operates off his own sheet of music, too.
The ugly truth he bemoans happened on his watch. Bush has failed to accept responsibility for the failure of Florida’s children long burdened under the yoke of his FCAT regime. It is time he is held accountable.
The person who has mattered in Florida education policy for more than a decade is Bush. He’s gotten everything he’s wanted save universal vouchers and parent trigger. He owns the results we are getting. Bush no longer has the moral authority to blame others. Nor does he deserve to advance policy without scrutiny.