Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

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.

Jeff Bryant has written an excellent in-depth investigative report on Jeb Bush’s boasts about the “Florida miracle.”

The alleged miracle is pure hogwash. The biggest beneficiaries are the profiteers and entrepreneurs who have opened 600 charter schools across the state.

As Jeff writes, Jeb got into the charter business to polish up his image after losing the 1994 race for governor. A defining moment occurred when asked in a debate what he would do for blacks, if he were elected. He answered, “Probably nothing.” When he learned about charter schools, he found the perfect vehicle to burnish his credentials in education and civil rights.

He worked hard to pass charter legislation, then opened the state’s first charter school in impoverished Liberty City in 1996. He still boasts about the school but forgets to add that it closed in 2008.

Bryant interviewed Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard, who represents the section of Miami that includes Liberty City.

Bullard denounced Bush’s A-F grading law “that perpetually traps schools serving the most struggling students with an “F” label, and opening up communities to unproven charter schools that compete with neighborhood schools for funding….

“According to Bullard, charter school expansion did more harm than good in Liberty City. As charter schools chipped away student population from the neighborhood schools, the local elementary school struggled to keep its enrollment up, and the middle school eventually closed as lower student populations drained the schools’ resources.

“In Bullard’s view, charter schools also help create an unhealthy revolving door, where kids cycle from public schools to charters, and then back into the public schools when charters close down. As schools open and close, the better-prepared students tend to find spots in other new charters, while the lowest performing kids get kicked back into struggling, underfunded public schools.”

Today, major charter chains dominate the Florida landscape, and most operate for profit.

“One person who has paid close attention to the spread of charter schools in Florida is Sue Legg. As a public school teacher, college professor and an administrator of state school assessment contracts at the University of Florida for over 30 years, Legg has had a ringside seat to the Florida charter school circus. In a series of reports produced for the Florida chapter of the League of Women Voters, Legg revealed the many ways charter schools in Florida spread political corruption and financial opportunism while doing little to improve the academic performance of their students.

“Her year-long 2014 study, conducted in 28 Florida counties, found a 20 percent closure rate for charters due to financial problems or poor academic performance — a closure rate that has now increased to over 40 percent. The charter schools studied generally did not perform better than public schools, and tended to be more racially segregated. A significant number of these charters operated for-profit and operated in church related facilities.

“In a phone conversation with Legg, she described how charter school expansions are being driven by a state legislature with numerous connections to the charter school industry. “States get around local control by using a statewide contract for charters,” she explained. And whenever a local board rejects a new charter school or threatens a charter school with closure, the school can appeal to the state. “The appeals process overturns about half of district denials of charter operation,” Legg contends.

“The conflicts of interest among charter schools and Florida state legislators was raised to national prominence by an article in Esquire written by Charlie Pierce. Pierce quoted from a 2013 Florida newspaper article:

“A growing number of lawmakers have personal ties to charter schools. Sen. John Legg [no relation to Sue Legg], who chairs the Senate Education Committee, is co-founder and business administrator of Dayspring Academy in Port Richey. Anne Corcoran, wife of future House Speaker Richard Corcoran, plans to open a classics-themed charter school in Pasco County. House Budget Chairman Seth McKeel is on the board of the McKeel Academy Schools in Polk County. In addition, the brother-in-law of House Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen runs the state’s largest charter management firm, Academica Corp. And Sen. Anitere Flores, also of Miami, is the president of an Academica-managed charter college in Doral.”

Florida mainstream media have paid attention to the financial scandals and corruption in the charter sector. The Miami Herald’s Kathleen McGrory wrote an excellent series called “Cashing in on Kids.”

The Sun Sentinel has exposed scandal after scandal.

“In a more recent series of investigative articles, from 2014, the Sun Sentinel found, “Unchecked charter-school operators are exploiting South Florida’s public school system, collecting taxpayer dollars for schools that quickly shut down … virtually anyone can open or run a charter school and spend public education money with near impunity.”

“Examples cited in the series include a man who received $450,000 in tax dollars to open two new charter schools just months after his first one collapsed. The schools closed in seven weeks. Another example: A man with “a history of foreclosures, court-ordered payments, and bankruptcy received $100,000 to start a charter school.” It closed in two months.”

The charter industry in Florida is a textbook example of the squandering of taxpayer dollars to undermine public schools and satisfy private greed. It’s not about kids.

It is about privatization and profit. Don’t be hoaxed.

Dan Gelber, a former state senator in Florida, offers a devastating overview of Jeb Bush’s education policies while he was governor of Florida.

Gelber says that Bush was indeed passionate about education, but his passion was tied to ideas that dumbed down the quality of education.

“He force-fed unprecedented testing into public schools, did all he could to neuter the teaching unions and unapologetically pushed private-school alternatives to public education. As he runs for higher office, Bush now relies on his “education revolution” to make his case….

“In 1998 when a newly elected Gov. Bush and a compliant Legislature started Florida’s “education revolution,” our graduation rate was among the lowest in the nation. After Bush’s two terms in office, Florida’s graduation rate was dead last and remains near the bottom.”

With so much emphasis on testing and test prep, the scores went up in the early grades, but the gains were short-lived. The gains might have been the result of a constitutional amendment forcing class-size reduction on the early grades, which Bush opposed.

Gelber says Florida should not be a national model. It is “an example of the perils of combining excessive testing with inadequate funding….

“As schools began teaching to the test and neglecting anything not measured, Florida’s floor of minimal competence became our ceiling. This distortion became especially acute because, while money alone isn’t a solution, money does matter. Under Bush, Florida had one of the lowest per-pupil funding levels in the nation, so principals and administrators did what any overwhelmed emergency-room doctor does. The state began to triage its curriculum and programs in order to devote scarce resources to what was tested.

“Art “carts” replaced art classrooms, physical education was deemed nonessential. Foreign languages, gifted programs, music, higher-level math and English, civics and science all were among courses that were deemphasized or sometimes even abandoned because they were not measured by the FCAT.

“My eldest daughter’s accelerated algebra class didn’t complete its course work one year because the school stopped teaching it to devote time to relearning FCAT math from years earlier. My youngest daughter’s school cut its exciting science lab program. Not taught on the FCAT!

“Talk about a mad dash to mediocrity….

Florida’s incredibly low education spending is, sadly, in sync with its dismal graduation rate, and nearly last in the nation SAT and ACT scores….

“The debate of accountability vs. funding marginalizes the importance of both. Money has to be adequate, and testing has to be thoughtful or you end up with a dumbed-down and narrow curriculum that fails too many kids.”

Matthew Pulver, writing at, describes Jeb Bush’s dangerous belief in privatization and free markets in education.

It is not so much a belief as an ideology, one that is impervious to evidence. The many studies showing thAt privately managed charters do not get higher test scores than public schools do not register with Jeb. The numbers of charters that open with grand promises and soon lose their doors with big debts does not affect his belief system. He is a zealot for school choice, period.

Not even the failure of the charter school he founded in Liberty City, a poor black neighborhood, dampens his passion for charters and vouchers.

Writes Pulver:

“There’s nothing else as large in all of society. Not the military—nothing—is bigger.”

“That’s how Randy Best, Jeb Bush’s business partner, sees public education, as an untapped market where untold billions are to be made when kids and their families become educational customers. Touting his impressive assault on public education while Florida governor in yesterday’s announcement of his 2016 candidacy, Bush may become the loudest proponent yet of turning public education into a for-profit enterprise.

“Before getting into Bush’s record and financial interests in for-profit education, a full understanding of the dystopian horrors of for-profit, privatized education is necessary. Bush offers it with a handful of Milton Friedman-esque catchwords and focus-grouped slogans, and it may be that the proposals sound innocuous and vaguely innovative until the slightest scrutiny is applied to the ideas — at which point, it’s difficult to imagine much worse than public education turned into a for-profit market. Because the most basic and collectively understood truisms about markets, when applied to children, take on a horrifying character.”

It should be noted that Bush’s partner, Randy Best, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Reading First, the ill-fated program enacted as part of NCLB but eventually discontinued because of sweetheart deals and conflicts of interest. Best, an entrepreneur, not an educator, created a commercial reading company (Voyager Learning), which he later sold for $360 million. Best admits that he can’t read, that he is acutely dyslexic. But he knows how to make money.


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