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Jeb Bush Gives High Grade to Fla. Education

Image: Jeb Bush Gives High Grade to Fla. Education

By Jim Meyers   |   Friday, 12 Jul 2013 09:37 AM

An organization chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been making great strides in promoting education reform in the Sunshine State — and it has issued a new report grading state legislators' support for improving education.

The Tallahassee-based Foundation for Florida's Future was founded by Bush, who has long been committed to improving education standards. While in office he was widely credited with improving education in the state, and since leaving the governor's mansion in 2007 he has continued his efforts in Florida and elsewhere.

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In a Letter from the Chairman included in his organization's "Florida's Education Report Card 2013," Bush states: "Since Florida's state and education leaders stopped accepting excuses and started expecting results, students and schools have flourished under a system of high standards for learning, accountability for schools, and choices for families.

"At the bottom of national rankings back in 1998, today Florida's fourth graders score at the national average in math and they ranked second in the world on a recent international literacy test. With graduation rates in Florida at a historic high, we are proud of our students, educators, and schools' achievements."

Bush noted that reforms passed in Florida's most recent legislative session will empower parents, support teachers, engage technology in student learning, promote accountability in charter schools, and fund successful programs.

"These reforms will be life-changing for many Florida students," Bush adds.

As a result of education reforms, Foundation for Florida's Future points out, the state's dropout rate is at an all-time low, Florida students with disabilities ranked first in the nation in combined reading and math progress, and African-American students have closed the achievement gap with white students faster than the national average every year since 2003.
And in the 2014-15 school year, Florida will transition to new K-12 academic standards for math and English language arts.

The foundation's Report Card 2013 grades legislators on their efforts to improve the quality of education in Florida. The lawmakers are graded on an A to F scale based on their voting records and "demonstrations of leadership."

In the 2013 report, nine state senators received an A+ grade — all of them Republicans. Eight Democrats got an F.

In the House, eight representatives received an A+, again all Republicans, while 38 Democrats got an F.

Bush's organization is currently promoting the so-called parent trigger bill, which would allow parents to demand sweeping changes at failing public schools, including having the school converted into a charter school. It would also prevent children in struggling schools from having a teacher deemed "ineffective" for two consecutive years.

The proposal is a "top priority for Bush, who came to Tallahassee earlier this year to discuss it with lawmakers," the Miami Herald reported.

Bush has also taken his efforts beyond Florida. In May, he met privately with Michigan Republican lawmakers to urge them to approve higher K-12 education standards, the Detroit News reported, adding that Bush "has become a national leader in education reform."

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Bush has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. He has reportedly said he will make a decision next year about seeking the GOP nomination.

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