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Jeb Has Nothing to Apologize for -- Education Matters

August 25, 2015 - 8:15pm

The issue of education, as expected, has been inserted into the presidential campaign. Not surprisingly, some candidates prefer to focus on how states should avoid accountability for the continued failure of our students, while raising the boogeyman of 'Common Core' as a term rather than the reality of higher standards and expectations developed by states. 

That seems to be the conclusion one could draw from organizations attacking conservative education reformers like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Jeb had the vision to say that the public schools in Florida, which seriously lagged national norms of performance, needed a heavy dose of reform. Those efforts at reform now come under attack from people who call themselves conservatives and yet who manage to defend the status quo of failing schools and poor student performance. True conservatives should want all students to rise to increased expectations, not languish in substandard classrooms 
They should be ashamed of themselves. Our national public schools are way underperforming against international norms. Only a third of all high school seniors are college- or career-ready. So each year, we send hundreds of thousands of students into the real world, and only a third of them are ready. Roughly two-thirds can’t do the math; roughly two-thirds can’t do the reading. It’s abysmal.
One would think that the Republican Party would stand strongly and united against this kind of failure. Our public school system is funded by significant amounts of hard-earned tax dollars – so this could easily be cast as a government waste issue. And when our students fail to receive a life-changing education, it prevents them from seizing the opportunities that our country gives them – so this is then an economic freedom issue. I am not assigning blame here. I am just pointing out the harsh realities of the casualties of not raising expectations and setting at least a minimum bar of expectations for all students to target as entry expectations for the new American economy. We can't expect kids to read what Dick and Sally are doing if the real Dick and Sally can't read. 
For decades, leading conservative thinkers said we should raise standards, give more control to parents, expand educational choices and introduce real accountability. Still, some groups, such as a self-defined “conservative” group called Pulse 2016, have taken the opposite tack. They seem to grade the Republican nominees on whether they’ve done enough to resist all efforts to do right by our students.
Let me be blunt: If you are opposed to high standards and accountability, you should not call yourself a conservative on education issues. Saying, as Pulse2016 does, that you are merely opposed to federal involvement in our schools is a distortion. Why? Because all of the best ideas for school reform have come from the state and local level – only later did the federal government jump on the bandwagon. Great ideas get diffused to other states if left to real market forces and are not chop blocked by hyperbole and rhetoric. 
Listen to the actual candidates and look at their record. You will see that the real conservatives on education reform are those who have actually done it. They have a record of accomplishment. They have a record of increased student performance. 
When Jeb Bush was governor of Florida, the state went from one of the worst states in student achievement to well above average – and that record has continued and must be pursued. 
Florida took bold steps previously undone, to reform Florida’s broken K-12 system. Under Jeb's leadership, Florida raised state standards – long before anyone in Washington, D.C., thought it was a good idea. Florida implemented a mandatory grading scale for schools, so parents could see how all students were doing. Jeb made sure that middle school students completed certain classwork before going on to high school. He required schools to offer high-level math for students who needed a challenge, and he pushed for remedial work for low-performing students who needed the extra attention. 
He advocated more rigorous coursework in high school, and created ready-to-work programs for students so they could move toward career options best suited for them.
Working with the Florida Legislature he also dramatically expanded parental choice, and the number of Florida students served by charter schools during that time period grew from 16,120 to 92,214. Florida created the first-in-the-nation statewide voucher program – something conservatives had been talking about for decades. Florida created opportunity scholarships to let kids trapped in failing schools go to public and private schools of their choice. Jeb signed into law the McKay scholarships program for students with disabilities so they could choose to go to better public or private schools if they felt their school wasn’t serving their needs well.

And in true conservative fashion, he created tax credits for individuals and corporations who donated to nonprofit funds, who in turn gave private school scholarships to low-income children. Ask the parents of those children what these changes meant to them. 

 The policies Jeb pushed worked: The state’s high school graduation rate rose by 50 percent. The number of schools rated "A" or "B" increased from 21 percent to 74 percent. Florida led the nation in improvements for low-income and black fourth-grade literacy. The percentage of African-American third-graders reading on grade level nearly doubled. Low-income and Hispanic fourth-graders are the best in the nation in reading. The number of African-American and Hispanic students passing the AP exam more than quadrupled. And Florida became the only state to consistently close the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students, and between low-income students and the rest of the student body.
Now here’s the problem: Jeb Bush’s record of achievement has been copied by dozens of other states and much later even the federal government has gotten on board. Apparently now that’s supposed to be some kind of mark of shame.
But Jeb and Florida have nothing to apologize for, and he has always said that his reforms only work when they come from state and local leaders. He has always said that the federal government has no role to play in setting standards or curriculum. In the end his record as an education reformer is something that conservatives should embrace. Jeb understands that to maintain greatness as a nation and compete in the world economy we must continually improve our educational systems. We must do better! Education matters!

Ed H. Moore, Ph.D., is president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.


Jeb was a good governor and he achieved some real reform especially with vouchers. But that was then; this is now. Clearly, Ed Moore is trying to ameliorate a political problem for Jeb and not very convincingly. If he thinks he can slough off Common Core as a boogeyman rather than a serious effort by FedGov to control even more of education, he’s finding out that the grass-roots know more then he thinks. Maybe even a lot more than he does. It is obvious that he thinks the Feds can do a better job than the States. Perhaps he can tell us one area in history where that is true. Education is by our Constitution a State matter and many states are making progress as Florida has; Louisiana is really way ahead with so many charters and vouchers since Katrina. OK, Mr. Moore, if you really are concerned, how about zeroing in on the teachers unions? THAT’s where a major obstacle to learning lies. And, of course, the Feds interference (at great taxpayer expense) is no help. Whatever Jeb’s reasoning for supporting Common Core –and there must be something other than learning—it probably doomed his candidacy

You start off your piece by stating that education has been "inserted" into the Presidential campaign - as if it doesn't belong in the national spotlight and we shouldn't care how these people who want to rule the country think and feel about one of the most important issues of our time! A nice piece of BS for your buddy Jeb. For someone with a PhD, you seem to know very little about the educational system in America. POVERTY is the biggest problem facing our children in education. If you think Common Core is the end all be all, you live in Fantasy Land. It is not age appropriate. It was NOT developed by teachers. It does NOT help our children reach higher standards. The testing companies a few yahoos with connections have concocted this high-stakes testing, rigorous, common core mess that only serves to frustrate and penalize teachers and students and hold them to ridiculous and made up standards. The desire to have all learning and testing done on technology is a farce. Teachers - caring, smart, dedicated teachers - are leaving the profession in droves because of all of the BS they are expected to do. When it takes longer to develop a teaching plan than to actually teach it, there is a problem. Let the teachers teach! Respect them and pay them for what they do. Stop taking public tax dollars and giving it to charter schools that are not held accountable and seem to close down almost as quickly as they open. Stop thinking a college graduate with 5 weeks of teacher training is helping educate our children. STOP messing with the education of our children!!!

Accountability is the NOT the goal. That word has been appropriated by a movement to distract from the true goal, which should be TEACHING CHILDREN! This is not done by driving competent teachers out of an industry based on test scores, low pay, and constant change due to last year's test results. These tests do NOT hold teachers accountable. They are the equivalent of evaluating your auto mechanic based on how many accidents his customers get into. Supervisors hold teachers accountable.

It's always quite sad when a PhD shows his lack of due diligence and research about what is actually causing "failing" schools and who has no understanding of PISA scores. It's also completely irritating when another man feels the need to trash a female dominated profession. It's also tiring to hear the same lies about the graduation rates increasing when that is not true given kids are pushed out via MCKAY scholarships and scholarships and never followed or accounted for and charters open and close like a doggie door taking tax payer funds with them. Bush had undermined the autonomy of teachers, created a test prep atmosphere, and has worked to defund and undermine class size which the voters IN THE STATE. Twice. Go carry his water somewhere else. This is just recycled pablum from the reformy corporate lead privatization playbook.

So...using your argument...women should not be able to criticize the state legislature...or the Congress...or even the GOP or Democrat presidential candidates because they are male-dominated? Ridiculius...

Honestly I don't care if Jeb Bush apologizes or not. I just want him and his influence out of Florida public education. We continue to see real educators ignored in the halls of Tallahassee and instead State education policy set by certain Bush foundation strong arms. This reformy talk of failing U.S. schools will not change until we change the way we test our students. NO other nation in the world tests the way we do.......not one. We are the only country that tests everyone equally. We test, with equal weight, students with learning disabilities, students that do not speak English, students with severe physical limitations. We institute standards, and their measures, that cripple our teachers and create false outcomes for our schools. Finally the issue of education was not "inserted" into the presidential campaign. Jeb Bush wears his claims to being the godfather of great education policy like a super hero cape.....he brings it with him wherever he goes. Sadly, in Florida, we know the superhero to be the most evil villain.

Moore is just a tool of Jeb Bush. One crony in the stack that profited off the progressive agenda Bush has for putting all public schools under the contro of the Federal Government. What could go wrong? It will function juct like Amtrak. Bush is a very dangerous man. We must not elect him.

1. No one is avoiding accountability. Do we not have admin we trust to hire teachers? Our teachers are highly skilled and frankly, I don't need a High Stakes test to tell me how my child is doing. That's what we have teachers for. It served me well. It served my college graduate well, it served my almots college graduate well, and it serves my 2 other children as well. 2. I'm as far from conservative as one can get and what's happening in our schools is pure crap! 3. If Jeb and his phonies/cronies would actually pay attention to what is happening internationally, they would find that we aren't as bad off as Bush says, and stop comparing us to China. China doesn't educate EVERY student. If they want to address education problems, they first have to address poverty. 4. Just maybe only 1/3 of high school students really want to go to college. No, I'm not all that concerned if my kids are career or college ready. They are 9 and 12. They are 4th and 7th grade ready and that makes my husband and I very happy. 5. Hard earned tax dollars that are going to testing companies not our schools. FLDOE has a contract with air that so far totals more than A THIRD OF A BILLION dollars. What could we have done with that money? I don't know how about paying our teachers decent salaries and benefits. 6. Real conservatives like Senators Legg and Montford and a whole host of others who hold stakes in Charter schools that funnel money out of our neighborhoood schools? NO You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Our schools and our children are not for profit. 7. You used the buzz words that will throw any parent actually paying attention into a tizzy. Rigor, - for the love of all that's holy look up the definition of rigor and tell me that it belongs in our schools. NO ... it's crap. * BUSH, SCOTT AND STEWART all owe Florida an enormous apology for the mess that they have created in this state. I'm disgusted that anyone with a speck of knowledge about education, the Constitution and US Code would think that taking any parent's rights away in the name of rigor and accountability is a good thing.

Let me be blunt, Dr. Moore, you are clueless about Common Core. Why don't you start at the local level with teachers who've been told they are no longer to teach. Do not take my word for it. Go ask them yourself what Common Core has done to their profession and to students. These are not standards any self-respecting conservative should be proud of. Yes. Jeb should be ashamed of himself and his greedy endeavour to profit off of dumbing down American children while calling it rigorous academics. The human brain doesn't comprehend abstract thinking under the age of 10-12, but Common Core demands it at age 5. Jeb's little project is making perfectly healthy minds believe they are stupid at an age when we should be fostering a love for learning. Common Core is shameful and it's why Jeb should never be our president.

Dr. Moore, when was the last time you set foot in a public K-12 school? Common Core was not state lead. Governor Scott doesn't attend the Board of Governor's meetings. What do Governors know about writing education standards anyway? Commissioner Stewart made a few minor changes when Common Core was changed to Florida Standards. Haven't you seen all the crazy math problems with Common Core? It takes 120 steps to solve the math problem instead of 3. Dr. Sandra Stocks and James Milgram refused to sign off on the Common Core Standards and they were the only educators on the validation team. That raises huge red flags. There is no evidence that these standards work. Even Bill Gates said this was a huge experiment and we will know in about 10 years if this works. My kids don't have ten years. The roll out of the FSA was a complete disaster. The computer test wasn't even accessible. The test is still going through a validation study. My kids didn't take the test last year. I run Opt Out Leon County. The testing is taking up weeks and weeks of the school year. I want high standards and accountability but this isn't working. Jeb Bush reforms haven't been that helpful. Fourth grade reading scores have gone up but only because low performing third graders have been retained. The FCAT and FSA have cost millions of dollars and many weeks of lost days in schools. It hasn't been worth it.

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