Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

Mercedes Schneider describes a new consulting team that is selling its services to states and districts. Most of its partners are protégés of Jeb Bush and learned his strategies of high-stakes testing, school choice, test-based accountability, and harsh treatment of teachers.

She writes:

Need help with your public or private business venture? Well, NY- and DC-based Ridge-Lane Limited Partners (LP) offers “venture development at the apex of public and private sector…”

Schneider reviews the bios of the firm’s principal actors, which are not reassuring.

She writes:

So, if you want to dip into some of this Ridge-Lane LP K12 “significant experience” (not in the classroom, mind you, but in Jeb Bush reforms, such as school grading, and Common Core, and PARCC, and pension funneling), then get your (or the taxpayer’s) proverbial checkbook ready so that these once state-ed superintendents can spin an income advising you out of those edu-dollars.

The Boss of bosses

Say this for Jeb Bush: he is not dissuaded by failure. No matter how many studies show the failure of vouchers, he doesn’t care. No matter how many studies show that charter schools do not get better results than public schools, he doesn’t care. No matter how many grifters have drained millions through privatization of schools, he doesn’t care. No matter how little evidence he has for any of his proposals, he still pushes them.

His ideas are old and tired and incoherent. But count on him to package them as fresh and innovative, which they are not.

He is the male counterpart to Betsy DeVos.

He just cares about destroying public schools.

He wrote recently in The Miami Herald:

Last month marked two years since the pandemic swept across the country, causing the largest disruption to our nation’s education system in modern history. But at last, this spring brings an academic revival of sorts. Schools are remaining open, mask mandates are disappearing and plexiglass dividers between students in their classrooms are coming down.

In the rush to return to normal, we owe it to our nation’s children to emerge from this pandemic transformed, not by going backwards, but ready to forge a better future for them with all we’ve learned.

Our starting point is challenging. Prior to the pandemic, America’s public schools were struggling to serve the needs of students, and since the pandemic, a study by McKinsey found students have fallen months behind as a result of school closures and disruptions. There were severe impacts on student mental health, too. Pew Charitable Trusts found students are reporting significantly increased levels of grief, anxiety and depression.

It’s also no surprise that there’s a growing distrust in public education. A survey by Ipsos found trust in teachers declined during the pandemic, and there’s been a subsequent decrease in the number of students enrolling in public school.

Those are serious setbacks, but there are reasons for optimism. The pandemic put a spotlight on a myriad of possibilities for the future of education. Notably, it illustrated a desperate need by families for a broadened ecosystem of options for their children, with funding flexibility to create more equity in choice. And it elevated the power of parents to blaze new educational pathways for their children.

The Associated Press recently reported that homeschooling remains a popular choice for parents, despite schools reopening. And, private schools and public charter schools have witnessed increased enrollment. But choice, in and of itself, isn’t enough. Policymakers must continue to seek new ways to unbundle education systems, transforming old approaches into new and better learning options.

In Indiana, lawmakers, led by House Speaker Todd Huston, took the first step toward creating the nation’s first “parent-teacher compact” law. This innovative policy would allow parents to directly hire teachers. Educators would continue to be paid by the state and receive their health and retirement benefits, but this policy would enable parents and educators to enter into a peer-to-peer relationship to benefit individual students, without the hurdle of a district middleman. This individualized approach to education would give educators more freedom, families more flexibility and individual students the personalized experience they may need.

As we unbundle education, we need to reimagine all aspects of how education is delivered to students. One approach is enacting new part-time enrollment policies. Right now, students are defined by the school in which they’re enrolled.

Lawmakers can improve the education experience by allowing students to have more flexibility, whereby a student can enroll in their local public school and easily access a portion of their education funding to also enroll part-time in a private school, with an online provider, or engage in another learning experience that benefits the child’s education.

Another approach that complements unbundling is rethinking education transportation options. Last year, Gov. Doug Ducey awarded $18 million in grants to modernize Arizona’s K-12 transportation system, including direct-to-family grants to help close transportation gaps. In Oklahoma this year, Gov. Kevin Stitt proposed changing Oklahoma’s school transportation funding formula to expand how public school buses can serve students. And Florida’s Legislature recently passed legislation to create a new $15 million transportation grant program that encourages districts to create innovate approaches to school transportation, including carpooling and ride sharing apps, for both school-of-choice families and traditional school students.

Those are just a few examples, and we must continually look for more ways to unbundle and reimagine education. The pandemic saw an explosion of families, in all communities and from all demographics, embrace micro schools, homeschooling and customized learning pods. Rather than trying to limit these families, we should give them access to direct funds to further personalize and benefit their child’s out-of-school learning experience.

That’s what Gov. Brad Little has championed in Idaho. In response to school closures in 2020, Little used federal emergency COVID relief funds to provide direct grants to families to support students who were no longer learning in school. And this year, Little signed the Empowering Parents Grant Program into law, giving qualifying families up to $3,000 to use for tutoring, educational material, digital devices or internet connectivity….

Transforming our nation’s education system and ensuring students receive the individualized experience to unlock potential and lifelong success require continual forward momentum, especially after two years of disruptions. We have to keep moving, keep reimagining, keep transforming. This commitment to excellence is a point of pride for Florida.

Last year, Florida’s Legislature passed some of the most significant improvements and expansions to the state’s school-choice programs. And this year, lawmakers strengthened the charter school law, expanded the Florida Empowerment scholarship program, created a new financial literacy requirement for high school graduates and ensured parents are better informed of their child’s progress through online diagnostic progress monitoring and end-of-year summative tests.

This Pied Piper plays a tune meant to deceive. Ignore him.

Billy Townsend reviews the tenure of Richard Corcoran as Florida’s State Commissioner of Education. His main qualification for the job, aside from his time as chair of the education committee in the state senate, is that he loathes public schools. He once said that he wanted to see every Florida student in a charter or voucher school.

Billy Townsend details his multiple failures. Be sure to open the link and read to the end. Watch the video, where Corcoran wrestles with his son on a brick floor, then throws him into the end of the pool, with the boy’s head barely missing the concrete coping. What an educator.

Townsend writes:

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s general leadership incompetence defines him far more than his trolling.

The Department of Education’s corrupt, ongoing institutional collapse under his three-ish years of leadership testifies to what he would have done (or will do) to any college or university foolish enough to make him a president.

Any “business” he might start that doesn’t grift public money or collect and/or spend other people’s political donations is going to fail — if he runs it.

But Corcoran did have two great talents in his short, happy public life:

  • Convincing powerful people to breathe some of their power on him.
  • Getting the weird Florida media to confuse trolling and leant power with actual power and leadership and capability.

More of the same, just with more trolling

It’s difficult to evaluate Corcoran’s record as Speaker of the House and Education Commissioner because he had no real governing goals or ideology beyond self-interest and the perception of personal dominance in the moment.

Just mesmerizing the child-like DeSantis into paying him $276K for three years is a massive personal victory for Corcoran. One has to acknowledge that.

But under Corcoran’s “leadership,” Florida continued Jeb Bush’s catastrophic, longstanding failures of student test score growth, if that’s what you care about. He continued to shovel tax money and tax-sheltered corporate money into Florida’s “Endtimes Academy” style voucher schools, ignoring the 60 percent 2-year drop out rate of our signature voucher program. And he continued to worsen Florida’s teacher and education worker capacity shortages by making education work as miserable and poorly paid as possible.

But in all that, Corcoran’s not special. He’s just a mainstream Florida leader who talks a little more trash. All of that education failure is openly tolerated and/or celebrated quietly by the private interests that actually run Florida — your Disneys and Publixes and FPLs.

Anybody else DeSantis would have appointed would have indulged the same neglect and general grifting. It’s the institutional story of the last 25 years. Until that changes, you’ll get the same institutional results.

Perhaps the DoE organization and building itselfwon’t be a rotten, corrupt cesspool with a more competent Jebbie in charge; but the Florida state system as a whole is America’s worst because institutional and governing power wants it to be. Corcoran doesn’t have much to do with that. He just looks to scavenge that reality for himself and his buddies.

Blogger Billy Townsend (Public Enemy #1) here summarizes the latest Florida education scandal.

Who is responsible for the widespread teaching exodus? Who demoralized America’s teachers, the professionals who work tirelessly for low wages in oftentimes poor working conditions? Who smeared and discouraged an entire profession, one of the noblest of professions?

Let’s see:

Federal legislation, including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

George W. Bush; Margaret Spellings; Rod Paige (who likened the NEA to terrorists); the Congressional enablers of NCLB; Sandy Kress (the mastermind behind the harsh, punitive and ultimately failed NCLB).

Erik Hanushek, the economist who has long advocated for firing the teachers whose students get low test scores; the late William Sanders, the agricultural economist who created the methodology to rank teachers by their students’ scores; Raj Chetty, who produced a study with two other economists claiming that “one good teacher” would enhance the lifetime earnings of a class by more than $200,000; the reporters at the Los Angeles Times who dreamed up the scheme of rating teachers by student scores abd publishing their ratings, despite their lack of validity (one LA teacher committed suicide).

Davis Guggenheim, director of the deeply flawed “Waiting for Superman”; Bill Gates and his foundation, who funded the myth that the nation’s schools would dramatically improve by systematically firing low-ranking teachers (as judged by their students’ scores), funded “Waiting for Superman,” funded the Common Core, funded NBC’s “Education Nation,” which gave the public school bashers a national platform for a few days every year, until viewers got bored and the program died; and funded anything that was harmful to public schools and their teachers; President Obama and Arne Duncan, whose Race to the Top required states to evaluate teachers by their students’ scores and required states to adopt the Common Core and to increase the number of charter schools; Jeb Bush, for unleashing the Florida “model” of punitive accountability; and many more.

We now know that ranking teachers by their students’ test scores does not identify the best and the worst teachers. It is ineffective and profoundly demoralizing.

We now know that charter schools do not outperform public schools, as many studies and NAEP data show.

We now know that public schools are superior to voucher schools, and that the voucher schools have high attrition rates.

We now know that Teach for America is not a good substitute for well-prepared professional teachers.

Who did I leave out?

We have long known that students need experienced teachers and reasonable class sizes (ideally less than 25) to do their best.

Given the vitriolic attacks on teachers and public schools for more than 20 years, it almost seems as though there is a purposeful effort to demoralize teachers and replace them with technology.

Peter Greene realized that supporters of public education have been lacking the very thing that catches the attention of the public and the media: reports backed by data. Especially reports that rank states as “the worst” and “the best.”

Greene’s Curmudgation Institute constructed rubrics to rate the states and developed the Public Education Hostility Index. He has created a website where he defines his methodogy and goes into detail about the rankings.

The #1 ranking, as the state most hostile to public education, is Florida.

The state least hostile to public education is Massachusetts.

Where does your state rank? Open the link and find out.

Billy Townsend of Florida writes here about an emerging development: the end of high-stakes testing. As a candidate, Biden promised to end it, but didn’t. Now Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis says its day is done. Even his state commissioner loves testing but turned on a dime to support the Governor. The vaunted “Florida model” of test-punish-choice is dead, writes Townsend.

No state has been more devoted to standardized testing than Florida, so the fact that its leaders are adopting anti-testing rhetoric suggests that the wind is shifting.

Townsend begins:

Last month, Ron DeSantis turned heretic. Without any warning, the 2024 GOP presidential hopeful publicly trashed the Republican education policy scripture Jeb Bush wrote 25 years ago.

He joined U.S. president Joe Biden in publicly rejecting the cornerstone of America’s dying “education reform” movement: the big money, high-stakes, end-of-year, badly designed, standardized test.

Bipartisan/institutional American power has used these tests to label and punish American children, teachers, parents, schools, and communities for a generation, with no measurable or perceivable life benefit.

In Florida, we call this test the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).

Ironically, in killing the FSA, DeSantis and his pro-test Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran used the language teacher unions and Opt-Out activists and public school advocates have used for years and years. – “I want more learning and less test prep,” DeSantis said.

“From April to May, we basically shut down schools for testing,” said Corcoran, who also called the Florida test he championed for years “archaic.” For Corcoran particularly, this is the equivalent of a Wall Street investment banker publicly repudiating capital as “archaic.”

In theory, the massive testing period near the end of the year will be replaced by three “progress monitoring” windows during the school year. Everyone in the state will use an as-yet unbuilt state-owned, state-run assessment platform.

But the policy detail is actually much less important than the political rhetoric this time.

With Joe Biden rejecting the current use of high stakes testing during his campaign; and DeSantis rejecting “test prep” and the experience of testing in Florida, the autopilot awfulness of American test-based “reform education” has lost all organized political support. It has enormous unelected money to sustain the inertia for a while. But, I believe, it is doomed.

“Absolutely central”

To understand what an earthquake this announcement was for the Florida Model of education, which has set the toxic American “education reform” template for a generation, you shouldn’t look to me.

Listen to a smart champion of “reform” and the Florida Model instead.

Travis Pillow long worked as a top editor — and by far the smartest voice — for ReDefined, the Florida-based “choice” PR/media shop. ReDefined is funded by Step Up for Students, the massive “charity” that doles out Florida’s various vouchers. Now he writes for an “education reform” site called the “Center on Reinventing Public Education.” Here’s what Travis tweeted after the DeSantis announcement. It’s completely accurate:

“The biggest piece I think non-Floridians (and some Floridians) are missing in this news is how absolutely central A-F school grades are to so many facets of our state’s education policy and how critical it will be to make sure test data can still be relied upon for them.”

As Travis understands, wiping out the FSA wipes out the functional totality of the elementary school grade formula. And it wipes out huge chunks of the middle, high school, and overall district grades. It requires Florida to completely rebuild the grade system, almost from scratch. This includes the basic legal definition of words like “growth” and “achievement” in a way that the “data” from an as-yet unbuilt state progress monitoring platform can feed.

The FSA is also the basis of Florida’s cruel and educationally unsound 3rd grade retention policies, for which there is no supportive research, and which exists only to pump student scores on another big national test, the 4th grade NAEP.

Indeed, Florida’s school grades have been entirely political tools and destructive fraudssince the day they were introduced after Jeb’s election in 1998. They have been used to advance the privatization agenda by driving public school children into un-FSA-tested, ungraded voucher schools.

Please keep reading. Open the link.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot selected Pedro Martinez, Superintendent of the San Antonio School District, as the Windy City’s public schools.

Martinez is a “reformer.” In San Antonio, he was known for his obsession with data and commitment to opening charter schools. He is a graduate of the tattered Broad Superintendents Academy. He is chairman of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. Chiefs for Change brings together superintendents who share the test-and-punish ideas of the failed corporate reform movement (closing low-scoring schools, opening charter schools, relying on high-stakes testing, evaluating teachers by test scores, collecting data about everything, distrust of unions, etc.).

Martinez is a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools. He holds an M.B.A. from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And, of course, he is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy. He worked for Arne Duncan as Chief Financial Officer when Arne was Superintendent in Chicago. He was “Superintendent-in-Residence” for the Nevada Department of Education. Prior to that, he was superintendent for the 64,000-student Washoe County School District, covering the Reno, Nevada area.

Like Arne, Martinez was never a teacher or principal.

Jan Resseger, a prominent social justice advocate in Ohio, recently wrote about Jeb Bush’s cliche-ridden defense of for-profit charter schools. The House of Representatives passed a budget proposal to prohibit federal funding of them. Jeb Bush is a relentless proponent of privatization:

Her commentary was published by the National Education Policy Center. She begins:

It’s clear that the charter school lobby is upset about the House of Representatives’ effort in its proposed budget resolution to curtail abuses in the federal Charter Schools Program and to reduce the program’s appropriation by $40 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Jeff Bryant explained last week: “The top lobbying group for the charter school industry is rushing to preserve millions in funds from the federal government that flow to charter operators that have turned their K-12 schools into profit-making enterprises, often in low-income communities of color. The group, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), objects to a provision in the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed 2022 education budget that closes loopholes that have long been exploited by charter school operators that profit from their schools through management contracts, real estate deals, and other business arrangements.”

The executive director of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Nina Rees went on C-Span to try to defend the program, and now it’s clear that the organization is calling on old allies to push Congress to cancel the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed elimination of all federal funding for charters operated for-profit by Charter Management Organizations. Bryant reminds us that Nina Rees was the deputy assistant for domestic policy for former Vice President Dick Cheney.

This week Jeb Bush, the ultimate old advocate for school privatization, came out of the woodwork with an op-ed circulated all over the country by the Tribune News Service. Bush’s piece appeared in our Sunday Cleveland Plain Dealer. Toward the end of his article, Bush gets to the point and protests the proposed House Budget Resolution: “Not only does it specifically cut $40 million in education funding (from the Charter Schools Program), but the House budget bill also includes alarming language that would prevent any federal funds from reaching any charter school ‘that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.’”

Bush thinks that the U.S. Department of Education ought to be allowed to make grants to charter schools whose operators are, in many cases, collecting huge profits at the expense of our tax dollars and at the expense of children whose education programming is reduced to ensure operators can make a profit. I guess he isn’t bothered by the charter management companies that have managed to negotiate sweeps contracts that gobble up more than 90 percent of the state and federal operating dollars and manage the school without transparency.

Open the link and read the rest.

Billy Townsend was a school board member in Polk County, Florida. He saw up close and personal how charters were sucking the high-scoring students out of public schools and excluding the students with disabilities. He saw up close and personal how the state’s voucher program was serving as a refuge from high-stakes testing and enabling the restoration of racial segregation. Billy believes, as I do, that if the day ever comes when so-called reformers see the harm they are doing to kids and to our democratic institution of public education, they might repent. Will shame move them more than the pursuit of profit and power? Perhaps we are naive to think it might. But hope springs eternal that even the profiteers and entrepreneurs and shady fly-by-night grifters might someday see the light.

Billy has written a powerful series about the Jeb Crow school industry and how its sole purpose is to destroy public education without helping kids. All of the articles are referenced in this post, the last of the series. He has demonstrated how the voucher schools are highly segregated and low-quality. He refers to the choice schools as “failure factories” but now calls them “Jeb Crow” schools to credit former Governor Jeb Bush for creating the Big Lie that school choice saves children. It doesn’t.

Townsend throws out a challenge to reformers who are sincere, if there are any, about equity and helping kids:

Serious “reformers” — those who actually mean it when they use the moral, racialized language of equity in justifying punitive policies that destroy public education capacity — know today that their entire life’s work is bullshit that failed on its own terms. 

They know it. Every single one of them. Some of them will cry about America’s super awesome graduation rate; but they know that’s manipulated data bullshit, too. Mostly, they’ve just gone silent while think tanks beg to keep getting useless test data and grifters use the language and weaponry “reformers” provided them to demolish public education capacity for everyone. 

The question now: if, when, and how will “reformers” ever break their shamed silence about their failures and decide to help us fix them?

Jeb Crow means wealthier, whiter kids get high capital charters; more vulnerable, less white kids get no capital vouchers; and we kill/privatize public schools altogether.

The grifting and cheating by state education officials is breath-taking. They know that school choice is a cynical ploy to shift money from taxpayers to private corporations. They know that the corporation that handles the voucher funding now has assets of nearly $700 million. They know where power lies in Florida. They know how corrupt the Legislature is. But everyone goes along to get along.

If you read one thing today, read Billy Townsend’s reports on Florida’s massive crime against children and the state’s own future.