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Politics

Jeb Bush, State Legislators to Talk Education Reform in Tallahassee

February 7, 2015 - 6:00pm

The Jeb Bush-backed Foundation for Floridas Future will be taking its case to Tallahassee Tuesday to talk accountability and school choice for Floridas schools. The half-day event, "Keeping the Promise: A Florida Education Summit," will convene the states top lawmakers to discuss heavy issues facing the education system.

The summit is scheduled for 2-5 p.m. at the Alumni Center at Florida State University.

Event co-hosts will include Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Council of 100, Florida TaxWatch, Hispanic CREO, the James Madison Institute, the Multicultural Education Alliance, and the Urban League of Greater Miami.

Teachers, education reformers, parents of students and even Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart will talk about the current state of education in Florida at Tuesdays summit.

But the summit will also feature some of the biggest names in Florida politics talking educational legislation and policy: Bush, Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Andy Gardiner, and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli are all scheduled to give remarks.

For years the foundation has been a driving force in pushing education reform across the Sunshine State. Bush made education a top priority while he was governor, implementing the now widely used "A" through "F" grading system as well as a scholarship program to provide vouchers for students with learning disabilities to attend a school of their choice.

"Florida's impressive gains in student achievement began 15 years ago with the A+ Plan for Education," said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the foundation. We must work together to ensure policies are implemented thoughtfully and in the best interest of students. We're thankful to be joining with partners to bring stakeholders together for an informative, honest discussion on how to keep the promise we make to students, said Levesque.

Tuesdays summit wont occur without backlash.

Nonprofit social justice advocacy group Progress Florida has scheduled a tele-town hall meeting to provide an important counterpoint to the foundations summit.

Progress Floridas political director, Damien Filer, criticized the states accountability system for being out of control with one-size-fits-all testing and unreasonable mandates.

We can make sure every student gets the best education possible so they can compete for the jobs of the future by prioritizing a strong public school system that is available to every one of Floridas students, wrote Filer in an email. But Jeb and his allies want Florida taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private, through unaccountable private school voucher programs.

Filer also attacked the summits headliners as representatives of for-profit education interests pushing harmful private school voucher and accountability legislation.

Progress Floridas tele-town hall meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

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