Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

Jeb Bush hasn’t made much headway in the polls but he is hanging in there, the favorite of the GOP establishment and the best-funded.


He recently announced his plan for reforming American education, and it is a paean to school choice. He just doesn’t like public education, period.


Peter Greene has performed a public service for us by reviewing Jeb’s proposals. He does so in part 1 and part 2.


i will give you some pithy excerpts and encourage you to read the whole thing by yourself.


This is from part 1:


“For all the conservative love for choice and freedom, it never seems to include the choice and freedom to do things that conservatives believe are Very Wrong, or to say, “We will pick our own choices to choose from, thanks.” That’s in part because the very idea of school choice is fundamentally flawed.


“First, nobody wants choice. Rich kids don’t have an advantage because they have choice– they have an advantage because they have access to an excellent education. People want a good school. That’s it. If someone gets a restaurant meal that is undercooked and cold, they don’t say, “Bring me a dozen mediocre meals to chose from.” They want what they want, done right.


“Second, choice is not “budget neutral.” When facing a tight budget, no school district says, “No need to shut down any buildings. It wouldn’t save us any money.” You can’t operate several sets of schools (with several sets of administrators) for the cost of one. Anybody who tries to set up a choice system without a plan to fully fund it is smoking something.


“Third, choice as currently conceived, disenfranchises a huge part of the electorate and cuts social responsibility out of the picture. If you don’t have a child, you don’t have a say in how tax dollars are spent. Choicer “it’s the family’s choice” rhetoric only goes so far– nobody is seriously suggesting that vouchers be literal vouchers that students can use to go to school, buy a car, or take a vacation in Europe. Choice never seems to include “I choose no school at all.” Choicers haven’t suggested doing away with compulsory education, but they can’t admit that it’s because the students have a level of responsibility to the country that’s paying for their education, because that would mean admitting that families are not the only stakeholders in education, which would conflict with the “the money belongs to the family” theory.


“But even if we get past those, we arrive again at the conservative conundrum– if you allow freedom and choice, you have to accept that people may choose things you don’t like, including NOT having a bunch of choices. Conservatives– and Bush is no exception here– keep calling for a system of imposed choice, which is a big screaming oxymoron.”


This is from part 2:


Bush wants more money for more charter schools, although he reminds us that money is not the answer.


Greene goes through the various proposals and here is the bottom line:


“Bush is being direct and clear– he would like to get rid of traditional public education. He thinks schools still work like they did two generations ago (there is no excuse for this belief). And he likes blended learning and competency based education, which means he is destined to meet the same people who hammered him over Common Core, only they’ll be carrying different signs.


“Also, remember– it’s important to give parents and students a choice, as long as they choose the choices that Bush chooses for them. Under Bush, you can have lots of choices– except for a traditional public school.”




This statement was released by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, in response to the news about the CTU strike vote, approved by 96% of voting members. FEE was founded by Jeb Bush; he stepped aside when he decided to run for the GOP nomination. Patricia Levesque was former Governor Bush’s closest associate. It is interesting that she refers to the children of Chicago as “our children.” The FEE–which strongly advocates for charters, vouchers, and virtual classes and schools– has never issued a statement about the lack of resources for the Chicago public schools, the lack of libraries, social services, or about overcrowded classrooms. Nor did it issue a statement when Mayor Emanuel closed 50 public schools in a single day, which surely hurt many children.






Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the Chicago Teachers Union membership voted to authorize setting a strike date if demands are not met by the State Board of Education. Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, issued the following statement.



“The Chicago Teachers Union has used its political power to turn the city’s education system into a place where collectively bargained job protections, benefits and pensions are the priority, not the education of our children. It’s no wonder Chicago Public Schools is spiraling into insolvency.



“Rather than negotiate in good faith on permanent solutions, the union is desperately lashing out, blaming everyone else for a state of affairs it has been instrumental in creating. Under the guise of taking a stand for students, it is preparing for a strike that will abandon students in their classrooms.



“This union agenda punishes families and only will hasten the flight to charter schools, where parents can find better options and where thousands of children currently are on waiting lists. The question now becomes whether or not union leaders are interested in the education of children and the long-term survival of Chicago Public Schools, or whether they are interested in a self-serving agenda of maintaining power.”




For more information, visit

It is common knowledge that Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence supports charters, vouchers, and digital learning. When he announced his run for the GOP nomination, he stepped down and brought in Condaleeza Rice to lead FEE.


Who provided the money to showcase Bush’s education platform? Bush released his list of donors from 2007-14.


“WASHINGTON (AP) — Big-time donors to a nonprofit educational group founded by Jeb Bush, disclosed for the first time Wednesday, highlight the intersection between Bush’s roles in the worlds of business, policy and politics years before he began running for president….

After leaving the Florida governor’s office in 2007, Bush formed the Foundation for Excellence in Education, with a mission “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve their God-given potential.” With Bush serving as president, the group attracted $46 million from donors through 2014.

That donor list shows the circular connections as Bush moved from governor to education advocate to corporate board member. Supporters in each of those stages of his career contributed to his educational foundation — which, in turn, sometimes supported causes benefiting its donors. They include Rupert Murdoch’s media giant News Corp., GOP mega-donor Paul Singer’s foundation, energy companies such as Exxon Mobil, even the Florida Lottery….


“If you wanted access to Jeb Bush, one of the ways to do it is to make a large donation to one of those foundations,” said Bill Allison, who until recently was a senior fellow with the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government…


“Records show:

—Four companies and nonprofits that appointed Bush to their boards of directors or advisory boards backed the educational foundation. One, Bloomberg Philanthropies, was among the most frequent supporters, making seven donations worth between $1.2 million to $2.4 million. Bush served on Bloomberg’s board from 2010-14. He also served on the boards of Jackson Healthcare, Rayonier Inc. and an affiliate of CNL Bank, each of which gave a lesser amount to the foundation.


—Bush’s education nonprofit provided $1.1 million in public information grants to eight states in 2013, its tax form shows. In recent years, at least nine charter school and education-related donors to the Foundation for Excellence in Education won contracts in those eight states, revealing the mirrored missions of donors and the foundation.


—The most frequent individual donor to Bush’s group was Florida citrus grower Bill Becker and his wife, Mary Ann Becker, who made eight donations worth between $225,008 and $450,000. A longtime Bush family supporter, Becker once provided Jeb Bush the use of his Cessna airplane for campaign travel….


—Major corporations backed Bush with big money. The most generous organization was the Walton Family Foundation, formed by Wal-Mart’s founders, which gave from $3.5 million to more than $6 million. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart Foundation gave $35,002 to $80,000 more. Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ foundation gave between $3 million and more than $5 million. Murdoch’s News Corp. made three contributions, at $500,001 to $1 million apiece. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, built from the family real estate empire, gave more than $2 million.


—Total donations steadily increased over time, going from a 2007 maximum of $335,000 to $8.4 million in 2011 and as much as $12.2 million in 2014.

Education outfits such as Charter Schools USA, the publishing and education company Pearson PLC and Renaissance Learning were frequent contributors. So were financial groups and big businesses, with the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation giving from $1.6 million to $3.25 million and the SunTrust Bank Foundation $300,003 to $750,000. Exxon Mobil Corp., Duke Energy and BP America made nine contributions combined.”






If anyone hit my child, I would have them arrested.

Thanks to reader FLERP! for bringing this to our attention:

From Jeb Bush’s “Profiles in Character.”

“It’s not just our inner city streets that are in dire need of sense of shame. We have also lost our shame in our schools, too. Specifically, there is little shame in poor academic performance or classroom misconduct. We now see many students who do not care if the teacher yells at them or if their test results are less than stellar. In many of Florida’s largest school districts, there is little that the teacher can do to make students feel some sense of shame. In some school districts, such as Walton County, one of the oldest forms of shame, corporal punishment, is alive and well, and despite protests by some parents and Florida’s PTAs, the students have actually found that this doling out of shame is very effective. The students of these schools will tell you, as will anybody who experienced corporal punishment in school, that it is not the brief spanking that hurts, but the accompanying shame. A senior valedictorian of one high school in Walton County told a reporter ‘We feel ashamed when it happens to us, but when you’re in that classroom and you want to learn and somebody else won’t let you learn, well, they are dealt with.’ To date, Walton County has never experienced a shooting in any of its schools.”

So, this is how we solve urban problems: bring back a sense of shame (how?) and whip children. That requires no new taxes. Just a lot of hickory sticks.

Eli Broad has recruited Paul Pastorek, former state superintendent in Louisiana, to lead his effort to privatize the schools of 50% of the children now in public schools in Los Angeles.

Pastorek oversaw the elimination of public education in Néw Orleans. He was also a member of Jeb Bush’s far-right “Chiefs for Change,” a group dedicated to high-stakes testing and privatization.

In his new post, he will press for the elimination of many public schools.

“Few issues have roiled the LA Unified community more than the foundation’s plan to expand the number of charter schools in the district. An early report by the foundation said the goal is to serve as many as half the students in the district in 230 newly-created charter schools within the next eight years, an effort that would cost nearly half a billion dollars.

“It’s also a plan that district officials have said would eviscerate public education as it is now delivered by LA Unified. The LA teachers union, UTLA, has also attacked the plan as part of the Broads’ latest effort to “privatize” public education at the cost of union teaching jobs.”

No state has invested so much in technology as Florida. Jeb Bush has made educational technology his signature issue, and his Foundation for Educational Excellence has received generous support from the technology industry. Jeb has encouraged states to require students to take online courses as a graduation requirement.

But the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development reports that use of technology is associated with lower test scores.

This story, from Florida’s NPR state Impact describes 5 things we learned from the OECD report.

This research matters in Florida, writes John O’Connor, because:

“State law requires schools spend half of the instructional budget on digital lessons. School districts have spent the past few years adding Internet bandwidth, improving networks and adding high-tech teaching tools.

“Here’s five things we learned from their study:

“The more technology, the worse the performance on tests — This was the big conclusion. The students who spent the most time using computers or on the Internet in school did worse than expected on international tests.

“The students who ranked in the middle for technology use — what the OECD called moderate use — did the best on international tests.

“That’s pretty sobering for us,” said Andreas Schleicher, who leads the OECD’s education efforts. “We all hope that integrating more and more technology in school is going to help us actually to enhance learning environments. Make learning more interactive…but it doesn’t seem to be working like this.”

“The OECD noted that east Asian nations, such as China and Singapore, intentionally limited students use of technology. They also used more traditional techniques teaching math — and have the best-performing students on math exams.

“Basically, you can say the less computers are used in mathematics lessons,” Schleicher said, “the better students perform.”

“The OECD couldn’t pinpoint why students who use technology more didn’t do as well on tests, but suggested a number of explanations: Reading online is a different skill than reading on paper; technology can be a distraction; and schools aren’t making the best use of technology.

“Teachers who use technology get better results — The OECD found that nations that emphasized training teachers to use technology performed better on tests. That meant allowing teachers to connect by video conferencing, observing other teachers, sharing lessons and ideas and just chatting with other teachers.

“Again, it was east Asian nations which encouraged teachers to connect via technology that also had the best-performing students on exams.

“For the most part, Florida policy has focused on connecting students to technology. Plenty of teachers are advocates of high-tech lessons, but the OECD study suggests the state and districts might want to consider emphasizing training for teachers to get the most out of all the new gadgets in classrooms.

“Slow down and get it right — Right now, the way schools are using technology isn’t working for students. Schleicher said schools might want to take a step back, look at what’s working and focus on those areas.

“In Florida, schools are moving ahead with the state’s digital instruction mandate and lawmakers are considering setting aside money in the state budget each year for new technology….

“Digital skills are important — Right now, students aren’t getting good results from technology in schools. But Schleicher said computer and Internet skills are important job skills.

“And other research shows that most workers never use Algebra 2, Caluculus or other high-level math courses in their work — but most jobs require some digital skills. Teaching students how to use computers and the Internet is still time well-spent.”

Read this Facebook page, created by Florida parents, and you will never believe another of Jeb Bush’s boasts about what he accomplished as governor.

When he boasts about job creation in Florida, think about this: Jeb’s “Jobs” – low-paid service industry jobs that left many Floridians without health insurance and scrambling for affordable housing amid a real estate boom that helped fuel business-friendly tax breaks.”

If he boasts about higher education, remember that he raised tuition by 48%.

This Facebook page will grow as parents add more entries.

The Washington Post recently wrote an editorial defending Common Core and excusing Jeb Bush’s sudden change of tactics. Mercedes Schneider sent in an op-ed piece to explain what the Post got wrong. Her article was shunted over to “letters to the editor,” where it was rejected. She posted her response here.

Were the Common Core standards really developed by the states? Did the federal government have nothing to do with them? Does Jeb Bush really believe in state-created standards? Mercedes explains to those who care to know.

When he began to run for the Republican nomination for President, Jeb Bush stepped down as chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), which he founded to spread the gospel of high-stakes testing, tough accountability, charters, and vouchers. The new chairperson is Condoleeza Rice, who shares Jeb’s views on corporate reform. FEE will hold its “national summit” in Denver on October 22-23. You might want to plan to attend to learn about the campaign to privatize public education. Be sure to check out the sponsors. I can promise that you will not learn anything about the financial scandals that have plagued the charter industry or the disappointing results of vouchers at this conference.

Delaware State Commissioner Mark Murphy is stepping down.

“Many legislators, the teachers, administrators, and parents had lost confidence in Secretary Murphy, but he had the confidence of the man who mattered, Jack Markell. The DSEA [Delaware State Education Association] voted no confidence in his leadership. Legislators complained about the strong arm tactics to force through Common Core. Parents rallied and protested the Smarter Balanced Assessment. He had been called out of touch, but he claimed his efforts led to significant achievements.”

Murphy was a strong proponent of Common Core and Race to the Top. He was one of the few remaining members of Jeb Bush’s shrinking “Chiefs for Change.”

Until recently, the Chiefs included Gerard Robinson (FL), Tony Bennett (IN, FL) , Chris Cerf (NJ), Mike Miles (Dallas), Deborah Gist (switching from RI to Tulsa)), Janet Barresi (OK), Kevin Huffman (TN), Stephen Bowen (ME), and Chris Barbic (Tenn). All are gone, although Gist is still a “Chief” as district superintendent in Tulsa.

The only two original members left are John White and Hannah Skandera, neither of whom is popular with educators or parents.

The original Chiefs for Change was funded by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence.


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