Jeb Bush's education reform ideas draw national attention
Jeb Bush left the governor's office in 2007, but his influence still holds sway in Tallahassee, and now in state capitols from New Jersey to Oregon, where lawmakers are eager to adopt his education reform efforts.
Since leaving Tallahassee, the popular former Florida governor has developed a national reputation as an education reform powerhouse and champion of vouchers and charter schools. His latest recognition: the Bradley Foundation, a conservative group that says it shies away from lauding politicians. Last week, it gave the Republican its Bradley Prize, a distinction that carries a $250,000 stipend.
"The reforms that he put in place during his two terms as Florida governor in many ways lead the country in elementary and secondary education," said Michael W. Grebe, president and chief executive officer of the Bradley Foundation, which has spent more than $40 million over the past 20 years in support of charter schools and voucher programs — including as a donor to Bush's education foundation. "He put in place programs that have clearly raised academic standards. It's measurable, demonstrable. We're also really impressed by what he continues to do as a private citizen. When he left office, he didn't leave behind his work."
With the help of Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, governors and lawmakers in at least 17 states — mostly, though not all, Republican — have explored legislation based on the "Florida model." That includes grading schools on an A-to-F scale based on standardized test scores, making reading a requirement of advancing to the fourth grade and giving parents and students private-school vouchers and online courses.
"We've really moved the needle in Florida and that's been recognized," Bush said in an interview with the Miami Herald. "People are curious to know how we did it."
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