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Monday, August 29, 2011

Why won't Jeb Bush leave Florida's schools alone

From the Baccuda Post

As we recently reported, email accounts from Gov Scott’s transition office were closed in January and the private company handling those accounts deleted the emails. But a member of Scott’s transition team recently recovered a batch of e-mails that included some sent by former Governor Jeb Bush to Scott. Jeb prefaced these emails to Scott as “Take them for what they are … a desire that you succeed,” while including a long list of lessons learned with suggestions of items Scott should focus on in his agenda. While these e-mails could be interpreted as the sincere desire of one who has been in those same shoes, other aspects should make Floridians sit up, pay attention and scratch under the surface of our politicians’ moves to see what is really going on. If Jeb had simply wished Scott well, told him to take his time making decisions, and find time to enjoy life, it would have been gracious. But Jeb was anything but. Jeb was throwing his considerable weight around, forcibly hinting that Scott pass his policy concerns. Policy concerns that represent Jeb’s future political life. Since it’s sometimes difficult to connect the dots with so much information out there, we will attempt to bring some sense to those gratuitous, arrogant, and, frankly, hypocritical suggestions.

Part 1 – The “Education Savings Accounts” Suggestion

Jeb recommended to Scott that he push ahead with “education savings accounts” or a form of universal private school vouchers. These vouchers would allow kindergarten through high school students to receive an amount they could use to offset private school tuition. While opponents say these vouchers would hurt public education, Jeb and his supporters say that these vouchers give parents choice, improve education and save Florida money by shifting students to private schools.

But which private schools would benefit the most from these vouchers? CHARTER SCHOOLS. The same charter school movement that Jeb himself has been deeply involved in since he helped fund the Liberty City charter school in Miami in 1995. And why is it so important to Jeb? Jeb made “education reform” the hallmark of his two terms as Governor, in spite of his having absolutely no credentials that would qualify him as any kind of an expert in education, and has continued on this mission in the years since. Since Jeb couldn’t transition to the White House directly from the governorship like his brother did, this has become his signature issue to remain relevant in the national landscape for his future presidential run. And fundamentally changing the public school system nationwide, with education improvement coming because of charter school education, would cast Jeb as a “reformer” and would provide the blueprint to cast him as a Reaganesque visionary. Yet Jeb, like Reagan, needs help from others. And over the years, different enablers have stepped up to the plate.

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