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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Jeb Bush defends Tony Bennett and his record



Washington Post education columnist Valerie Strauss recently opined that the biggest loser in Tony Bennett's resignation was actually former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush begs to differ.

In a column for the Miami Herald, Bennett benefactor Bush contends that Florida's schoolchildren will feel the loss the most:

"As Florida’s education commissioner, he carried on that commitment to children and excellence. Overseeing education in such a large, diverse state is a much bigger challenge than in Indiana but Tony tackled it with his trademark passion and energy. He has traveled the state extensively meeting with parents, teachers, school administrators and superintendents. He has handled the concerns of lawmakers, school leaders and teachers. For those parents who fear their children are not mastering the skills necessary for success after high school, he has ably guided Florida in its transition to much higher academic standards."

Bush chastises the people who he says used "nasty political tactics" to "undermine Tony," suggesting that their use of "false accusations" protects their own self-interest "at the expense of our next generation."

There are, of course, many critics who would argue that Bush and his brand of "reformers," among whom Bennett was a leader, are guilty of the same. And that the quick resignation by the man known for his fight signaled that the criticism could very well be justified. The luster had worn off and the movement was losing whatever credibility it had.

Florida, Indiana and other states now face some serious questions about the direction of their education systems. And Jeb Bush is trying to keep the focus on his ideas even when the tide seems to be turning. Is there a middle ground, where data and the art of teaching can be joined to create an accountability system that works? Will politics always triumph in the end? What do you think?

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 6:39am]


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