Of course Bush decided to bring his annual education circus to Tallahassee because he’s running for president. Participants will, as usual, be filtered of any loathsome public school types and limited to the always-looking-to-belly-up to the salad bar on Jeb’s education gravy train. The state republican establishment will have their sycophant hats on and will be in full suck-up mode.
But the cameras will be there for a change. And reporters who won’t be bullied (pun intended) in what’s been a carefully choreographed affair by Bush handlers. Legitimate opposition to the Bush way will get face time. From Jeffrey S. Solochek in the Tampa Bay Times:
Jeb Bush and several Florida government officials, including Gov. Rick Scott and the Senate and House leaders, plan to talk education accountability and choice during at a half-day education summit in Tallahassee next week.
Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has said the public can attend the Feb. 10 event. But a group of Florida teachers who dislike the path the state’s schools have taken since Bush’s “reform” effort took hold doesn’t want to be on the inside.
The Florida Bad-Ass Teachers Association (or FLBATS) plan to gather outside the Florida State University Alumni Center to protest the state’s education policies, such as a reliance on testing.
Solochek writes that Florida Democrats are “co-hosting” the protest. This from FLBATS spokesman Tom James. (Full disclosure: he’s a Facebook friend)
Under Jeb Bush’s anti public education policies Florida has sunk to #28 nationally according to Education Weekly’s recent rankings. Florida currently ranks almost dead last in per pupil spending while billions of dollars have been spent on privatizing Florida public education through charter schools, vouchers, virtual schooling and high stakes testing.
The Bush people will spin FLBATS as the “teacher’s union.” A Super Bowl TV spot last weekend – which was promoted in a Bush Tweet – shamelessly exploited a Miami teenager into narrating an attack on Florida’s teacher union. Bush’s mouthpieces will use this tact and it will be interesting if they are able to keep their boss from being asked about the protest by members of the national political media who will be there.
While many rank and file FLBATS are public school teachers, many are not. Many public school teachers within the nation’s numerous BATS state chapters are dissatisfied with their state and national unions. The later particularly so for their acquiescence on Common Core and the Obama-Duncan Race to the Top grants.