Jeb Bush’s Fingerprints on Florida’s New High-Stakes Tests and His Sudden Arrival to the Common Core Wars

Scathing Purple Musings wrote yesterday that the next FCAT is going to parachute in just like the last one. Only this time, fresh off a field test of predominately white kids in Utah. Brevard Federation Teachers President Dan Bennett adds more in a letter to the editor in Florida Today:

It’s no surprise that Florida Secretary of Education Pam Stewart chose the American Institute of Research (AIR) to produce the next high-stakes test for Florida’s children.

This research company has long partnered with Jeb Bush’s Education Foundation in the former governor’s misguided quest to reform our schools Just as FCAT was a test printed by a company with financial ties to the Bush family, the new test has Bush fingerprints all over it. AIR produces raw teacher value-added model (VAM) scores, with little explanation to educators. These unreliable and invalid measures are part of the public frustration leading to the public’s lack of trust in public school accountability

Bennett’s blistering piece is recommended reading in its entirety here. He calls for an “end the era of high-stakes testing”  and to “reject Bush’s reform movement.”

Perhaps bad timing is a Bush family trait. With Common Core under assault, opposed by his own Republican Party and even  rejected by some republican-led state legislatures across the nation, his Foundation for Excellence in Education has come out with a campaign to prop standards up. John O’Connor reports in State Impact:

The web site features videos of teachers (they volunteered) answering common questions and explaining the standards, and interactive maps showing where the standards have been challenged. An ad began airing yesterday on television and cable and will run for 10 weeks, said Allison Aubuchon, a spokesman with the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which is sponsoring the campaign.

The advertising campaign in the Tampa Bay region targets local news and cable networks such as Animal Planet, HGTV and The Family Channel.

The teachers, there arefourofthem, are also spreading the campaign on social media.

Talk about closing the barn door after the horse is gone.

Bush and Arne Duncan probably know they won’t be influencing the folks they’ve been savaging for their opposition to Core. Even they know that the best reason to oppose their Core agenda – that the standards are not evidenced based – can only be countered with oft-repeated talking points like “these will prepare our kids to compete in a global workforce” has to dominate the narrative. Hence well-financed TV spots.

Bush’s strangely timed leap into the Core wars has been determined based on cold political calculations. His shadowy run for president takes priority after all. Maybe he’s even thrown Core under the bus as not to offend ALEC any further.

With a top Bush mouthpiece like Matt Ladner saying on Twitter that he’d give up accountability for universal school choice, a shift in the  education reform agenda has perhaps arrived. They no longer need the “failing schools” meme they earned through high-stakes tests, as they’ve grown their for-profit  charter school industry to self-sustaining levels. Voucher legislation across the nation has grown in scope. In state’s like Florida, voucher schools don’t even have to take the same tests as public schools.



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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One Response to Jeb Bush’s Fingerprints on Florida’s New High-Stakes Tests and His Sudden Arrival to the Common Core Wars

  1. markhalpert9 says:

    Giving up accountability for universal choice says it all. It is not about having excellent results, it is about the money. Universal choice would be a disaster for our kids. Time for a Governor who believes in excellent public education

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