NewsEducation Summit Preview

VIDEO: 4 Things to Know About Jeb Bush’s K-12 Platform Ahead of the Education Summit

By Carolyn Phenicie | August 10, 2015

This video is part of a series commissioned to introduce the political leaders set to speak at the August 19 New Hampshire Education Summit (in no particular order). Watch all videos, and read the complete series, and be sure to watch the Summit live on Wednesday the 19th right here at The74Million.org. More info: EdSummits2015.org
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is one of a half-dozen Republicans confirmed to take part in The Seventy Four’s election summit Aug. 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Bush is perhaps the best known of the Republican candidates for his education advocacy.
He promoted the Common Core and what is sometimes called “the Florida formula” or “A+ Plan for Education,” a series of policies including vouchers, school grades and online learning, that he championed while governor from 1999 to 2007.


In advance of the event (which will be live streamed here), here are four things to know about Bush’s record in Florida and his K-12 platform. (Don’t forget to check out Bush’s baseball card.)
Vouchers
Florida had a voucher program for children in failing schools; the state Supreme Court overturned it in 2006 on the grounds that the state constitution bars state financing of a separate private education system, the New York Times reported.
The state instead implemented a system of vouchers funded by businesses, which then received equivalent tax credits. Teachers and others sued to block the new program, but a judge threw out their case in May, saying they didn’t have standing to challenge the program. Backers said that if the program shuts down, 70,000 students would have to be re-absorbed into public schools at a greater cost than is being spent to educate them in private schools, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Florida Results
Newsweek ran a lengthy article —  authored by a fellow from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation —  detailing Florida students’ outcomes in the wake of the “Florida formula.” The foundation’s research found strong test scores overall, particularly for black, Hispanic and poor students. Teachers unions and other opponents said students were simply better at taking tests — not better at learning — and that the voucher program in particular took needed money from public schools.
Valerie Strauss, a blogger for The Washington Post, in an interview with professor Sherman Dorn, also challenged those purported successes.  Although Florida children made unambiguous gains in fourth-grade reading, NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test scores in fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading and math didn’t show similar gains, according to Dorn.
“Bush is correct that Florida’s children benefited from his time in office if children graduated high school at the end of fourth grade, and only evidence of general reading skills mattered. For most other independent test-score measures, the picture is less impressive,” Dorn said.

 

Education Foundation
After he left the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007, Bush formed the Foundation for Excellence in Education. The Washington Post ran an extensive article in January detailing the foundation’s work to pass parts of the “Florida formula” nationwide: charter schools, A-to-F school grades, vouchers, third-grade literacy requirements and online learning. In many respects, the group’s work is paying off. A number of states have instituted third-grade literacy requirements, the AP reported. Many are expanding charter schools and voucher programs.
Critics point to emails obtained via a public records request that they say show an improper relationship between the foundation, its offshoot organization Chiefs for Change (a group of current and former state education secretaries committed to the same agenda), and the businesses backing the foundation. The group “has been criticized as a backdoor vehicle for major corporations to urge state officials to adopt policies (such as digital learning) that would enrich the companies,” according to The Post.
Bush stepped down from the group in January (Condoleezza Rice is now at the helm), and the foundation released donor information for all of those who gave more than $5,000, the Associated Press reported.
Many of the same individuals and foundations that donated to the Foundation for Excellence in Education are also supporters of The Seventy Four.

Keeping Score, Election 2016: Check out all 22 education scorecards
Common Core
Bush is one of two candidates in the GOP field (with Ohio Gov. John Kasich) to still publicly support the Common Core State Standards. He fielded, some say deftly, a question in Thursday’s first Republican debate from Fox moderator Bret Baier about whether he thought those opposed to the Core were a “fringe group of critics.”
“No, I don’t. And I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content. It is clearly a state responsibility.

I’m for higher standards measured in an intellectually honest way, with abundant school choice, ending social promotion. And I know how to do this because as governor of the state of Florida I created the first statewide voucher program in the country, the second statewide voucher program, in the country and the third statewide voucher program in the country.

And we had rising student achievement across the board, because high standards, robust accountability, ending social promotion in third grade, real school choice across the board, challenging the teachers union and beating them is the way to go."

And Florida’s low income kids had the greatest gains inside the country. Our graduation rate improved by 50 percent. That’s what I’m for.”

The Bush campaign pushed the answer out to donors and others post-debate, according to CNN, saying their candidate “knocked it out of the park” and achieved “the best response in our online metrics” when talking about his support for the standards.

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