Friday, October 19, 2012

NY Mag Profile of Jeb Bush, Education Reformer

New York Magazine did an in-depth profile of Jeb Bush that I’ve included below because: 1) While very gossipy (so take a lot of it with a grain of salt and read his response below), it’s by far the most in-depth profile and political analysis of him I’ve ever read); 2) In a recent NY Magazine survey of 74 Beltway insiders (37 from each party), he was named as the most likely Republican nominee, by far, in 2016 if Obama wins (he got 35% of the votes, followed by Rubio (24%), Christie (18%) and Paul Ryan (15%); on the Democratic side, Hillary was named by 75%, followed by Andrew Cuomo at 14%); 3) If Romney wins, he would be a leading candidate I think to be Secretary of Education; 4) His BIG issue is education reform, both when he was governor of Florida, and since then, right up to the present; 5) What he accomplished in Florida, both legislatively and, as a result, the huge gains made by Florida’s students subsequently, makes the state the best long-term statewide reform model in the country I think. This what I wrote in Sept. 2011 (

STOP THE PRESSES!  Here is a slide presentation (which I've posted at: by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education ( that I think is important enough (and long enough: 99 slides) to send out as its own email.

The reason I think this is so important is that Florida represents the best response to the frequent charge from the anti-reformers that there's no evidence that the reform agenda works.  To quote Gary Rubenstein, "your solutions haven't been shown to work, even on a small scale except for some KIPPs." 

I think this is wrong, but there's no doubt that reformers could use a compelling, large-scale case study in which a large fraction of the reform agenda was implemented and there is clear evidence of broad, dramatic success.  I think Florida provides this.

The first half of the attached presentation show the enormous gains Florida has made, starting as reforms began to be implemented in 1999 and continuing to this day.  The numbers really are SPECTACULAR: both NAEP and state FCAT scores skyrocketed, graduation rates jumped AND remediation rates fell, AP exams taken and passed soared, the number of schools rated A or B went up 4x while the number rated D or F fell 73% – and, best of all, the largest gains were among low-income, black and Hispanic students.

The second half of the presentation highlights all of the elements of the reform agenda that drove this change: grading schools; money to schools and directly to principals and teachers to reward success; allowing parents to opt out of chronically failing schools; ending social promotion after 3rd grade; raising high school graduation requirements; setting up alternative routes to teacher certification; reforming teacher evaluations and tenure; tying evals to teacher pay; eliminating LIFO; requiring mutual content (i.e., principals must approve any teacher transfers into their school); pre-and finally, the full gamut of choice: various tax credit scholarships, charter schools, vouchers for pre-kindergarten, and virtual education.

Here’s the beginning of the article (doesn’t this remind you of Clinton’s comments above? “Sitting down across from me, he assumes his role as party Cassandra, warning  of the day when the Republicans’ failure to tap an exploding Hispanic population will cripple its chances at reclaiming power—starting in Texas, the family seat of the House of Bush.”):

Jeb Bush walks into the room wearing a shimmery sharkskin suit, taller than you expect and trimmer,  grabbing hands and beaming like a man who’s running for something.

“Good to go,” he says, clapping impatiently. “It’s game time.”

Backstage at a theater in Tampa during the GOP convention, the former governor of Florida has shown up to discuss education policy after a screening of the new Maggie Gyllenhaal movie, Won’t Back Down, a drama about a single mother who does a hostile takeover of her failing public school and turns it around—a Jeb Bush fantasy come to life. But he’s got plenty on his mind besides education. Sitting down across from me, he assumes his role as party Cassandra, warning of the day when the Republicans’ failure to tap an exploding Hispanic population will cripple its chances at reclaiming power—starting in Texas, the family seat of the House of Bush.

“It’s a math question,” he tells me. “Four years from now, Texas is going to be a so-called blue state. Imagine Texas as a blue state, how hard it would be to carry the presidency or gain control of the Senate.”

Imagine. Four years from now.

Once again, it is impossible to ignore Jeb Bush describing a problem he’s uniquely suited to solve for his party: a popular two-time governor of a Hispanic-heavy state, with a record of improving education for minorities, fluent in Spanish, married to a Latina, and father to two Hispanic sons, George P. Bush and Jeb Jr. By Jeb Bush’s own calculus, Jeb Bush would make a great presidential candidate.

And here’s Bush’s response to it:

Jeb Bush Responds to New York

·         By Dan Amira
In this week's New YorkJoe Hagan examines the past, present, and future of the Bush dynasty, the latter of which rests in the hands of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and any White House aspirations he may or may not possess. Bush's response to the piece, in the form of a letter to the editor, is reprinted in its entirety below.

New York Magazine’s piece “Jeb Bush’s Complicated Legacy” is full of inaccuracies about me and my family.

Two things my parents taught my siblings and me were to serve our country with honor and integrity and  unconditionally love and support each other.  They did this for us and we now strive to pass these same principles on to our children and grandchildren. My father and brother served their country with integrity, honor and grace.  I am honored to be part of their legacy.  Our country owes them a debt of gratitude for their leadership during incredibly difficult times.

I believe our country and its political parties can have a good, open debate about the way forward.I know it can be done because I’ve seen it happen.  I experienced it during my eight years of service as Florida’s governor. It is wrong to suggest that seeking common ground, working together to find solutions to today’s challenging problems and being conservative are mutually exclusive.

President Reagan and my dad are examples of presidents who put aside political talking points and put policy solutions above political wins.  This summer I stated, “…they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground…" Many have ignored the “and I don’t,” and that has led them to inaccurate conclusions.

Lastly, my increased media appearances this summer have been to discuss substantive policy issues and support Governor Romney for President.  In fact, it was for this reason I agreed to an interview with Mr. Hagan.  We discussed complex issues, namely the need for comprehensive education and immigration reform.  That was the extent of my involvement.  I hope readers and reporters will beware of unnamed sources who falsely presume to have inside insights and information about my family and me.

Jeb Bush
Miami, FL

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