The Disappearing Influence of Jeb Bush and His Foundations on Florida Ed Policy


H/T: Jeff Solochek

Pensacola News Journal reporter Rhema Thompson reports on yesterday’s meeting between 30 state’s superintendents of schools and education commissioner Pam Stewart:

….district superintendents are reiterating the need for more time and presenting a list of other recommendations to the commissioner, including funding for additional days of instructional training for the new standards, modifications to the teacher evaluation system, and a corresponding three-year suspension of the state’s current school grading system.

“We’re laying out a three- to five-year plan that needs to happen if we’re going to do things right,” Escambia County Schools Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said. Thomas participated in the meeting via conference call.

Among the recommendations, the association requests that the state temporarily replace the school’s current grading system with a “transitional accountability system,” which would include a school report on student outcomes, indicators based on student proficiency and learning gains, and growth measures for the special education population based on comparisons to the statewide median growth.

The superintendents – professional educators all – are proposing practical reforms to the state’s accountability system. How this plays out with a dynamic that includes the Florida board of education isn’t clear. But it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that the meeting happened in the first place.

One can only imagine what such a meeting – if it would have happened at all – would have been like with Tony Bennett. How many times would he have told the superintendents “that train has left for the station?” And his predecessor, Gerard Robinson, might have just dismissed the superintendents with”do as you are told.”

Bush guys.

And would such a meeting have taken place without Patricia Levesque in the room to keep everyone in line?

A story has been circulating around Tallahassee that Governor Rick Scott went so far as to throw Levesque out of his office during the last legislative session. Scott appears far too measured for something to have gotten that far, but the story demonstrates how irrelevant Levesque and her boss are becoming.

The emails that came out earlier this year showed that several members of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education were always being CC’d by state employees at the FLDOE on state business. Are these continuing? Press releases from FEE seem to indicate that they have moved onto influencing ed policy in as many states as they are able. Maybe they have had to install all-hands-on-deck to save Common Core or some of their top people are gearing up for a Bush presidential run. At any rate, their absence from the scene in Florida is a welcome development.

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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