Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jeb Bush: the non-education governor and the mad dash to mediocrity ... by gimleteye

On the Miami Herald OPED page, today, former Democratic state legislator Dan Gelber is right on the mark: Jeb "... was a very busy education governor. 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."

When one strips the reality from the rhetoric, as the media must do in the case of the Jeb Bush candidacy for GOP presidential nomination, one ends up with the same criticism that dogs Jeb Bush in other policy areas: he was a governor who fit predetermined outcomes to policy initiatives; a famously thin-skinned governor who did not tolerate diversity or debate within his leadership ranks.

Dissent? Dissent meant disloyalty, not an expansive or inclusive model of leadership. It was the same approach with water management infrastructure and the environment in Florida: Jeb could often master the details and outline of important policy issues, but he had already made up his mind to make facts fit goals that were deemed best for what big campaign contributors wanted, not what was best for Florida.

For example, his appointments to the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District closely followed the governor's line; rude and dismissive to members of the public who provided policy input that differed from the results they had already decided in private.

Gelber is right on the mark, that the main achievement of his educational policies was to weaken the teacher's union. Weakening unions is the single policy goal that all Republicans can vote "yes", on and the signature achievement of another Republican candidate, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The Koch Brothers -- billionaire oligarch funders of GOP causes -- are so enamored of Walker's red-blooded attack on unions that they have pledged tens of millions to his campaign.

Gelber writes,
"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. As a member of the Florida Legislature for most of his tenure as governor and a proud PTA dad, I believe that any honest review of Bush’s education initiatives reveals a much different reality than the one promoted: a state that’s less a shining model of reform and more an example of the perils of combining excessive testing with inadequate funding."

So why has the mainstream media given Jeb! a free pass, uncritically referring back to his talking points that he was an "education governor"?
"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. ... Talk about a mad dash to mediocrity."

That's the truth, speaking, notwithstanding the polish of disciplined message machinery, a hallmark of Bush family campaigns and the best money can buy.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article25108849.html#storylink=cpy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't he funnel a state education software contract to his brother Silverado Neil's company? The Donald is looking better everyday...