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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Jeb Bush's foundation criticizes Reuters story on Bush's education efforts



With a two-day summit sponsored by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education as a backdrop, the Reuters news service published a story delving into the former governor's influence and outcomes in the world of education reform.

The story started out calling Bush a "rock star" and noting the academic improvements made by Florida students over time. Then came the "but." And the report segued into the controversial nature of the Florida model, and questioned the "depth and durability" of the initiatives.

A week later, the foundation has taken umbrage to the report with a counterpoint blog post. It begins quite bluntly: "There are media stories designed to inform. And then there are stories crafted to reach a pre-ordained conclusion."

Mike Thomas, the sharp-penned former Orlando Sentinel columnist who now runs the foundation blog, called the Reuters story an "exercise in spinning data and ignoring a wealth of information." He then offers a half-dozen bullet points discussing various independent reports detailing where the foundation sees strong growth in the performance of students who had traditionally underperformed. 

"Of course Florida isn’t going to record the kind of academic scores you see in Massachusetts. Florida has a 56 percent minority student population, with 57 percent of students on free-and-reduce lunches. Florida has a much greater percentage of students who speak English as a second language. The Great Recession hit Florida much harder than other states. Yet the state has moved the needle in a meaningful way. Does Florida have a very long way to go? Absolutely. Is everything Florida does perfect? No. Did Florida gains backslide a bit in 2011 after more than 10 years of solid gains. Yes. ...

"Should Jeb Bush be scrutinized? Definitely.

"But a news operation with Reuters’ reputation has a responsibility to present a balanced view of major issues like education. That certainly was not the case here."

Does the foundation have a point? Are both sides cherry-picking information to make a point? Any chance the debate over Florida education policy might move away from polarized opposites, finding positive aspects from all players as the state moves toward a new commissioner, the Common Core and other new changes? Discuss among yourselves. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:49pm]


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