When I think about the recent revelations about George Bush’s education reforms I am reminded of a commercial from a few years back. A few friends were sitting around and one told the story about how he made the winning kick in a high school game from 10 yards out. The next time he told the story he was 35 yards away and it was raining. Then every time he told the story the game got bigger, the kick got further away and the weather conditions got worse until finally he was in a snow storm from 60 yards away in the biggest game ever. He gleefully and without conscious announced he nailed it.
That describes what Bush wants people to believe about his education reforms accept he goes right to the longest kick, in the biggest game, under the worst conditions. Jeb Bush gleefully and without conscious announces he nailed it to anybody willing to listen and sadly that number includes a lot of influential politicians. Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob MacDonald of Virginia have bought what he is selling hook line and sinker but they aren’t the only ones.
Jeb Bush has been touring the nation telling people that his A-F school grading system has led to massive improvements in Florida’s schools and his evidence is schools receiving an A grade increased nearly fourfold in a six year period, 1999-2005. What Mr. Bush doesn’t mention is Florida changed the rules several times, in effect moving the goal post closer, making it easier for schools to get A grades.
Matt DiCarlo in the Shanker blog details Bush’s shenanigans masterfully, http://shankerblog.org/?p=7642
he writes how two changes to the A-F grading system in 2000 and 2002 led to much but not all of the improvement.
Friends this is another example of corporate reformers cherry picking stats and overstating accomplishments, charter schools and vouchers anyone? Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida; I can’t imagine that he is a dumb man which begs the question why would he do this? If he is on the right side of the argument why doesn’t he let the evidence speak for itself? The answer is he can’t because the evidence paints a picture that is contrary to what he is selling.
The truth is Florida has seen some modest improvement that has corresponded with both the grading measures and the class size initiative. Former Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson admitted last summer that they both had played a role. The truth is there is no Jeb Bush inspired Florida miracle.
Governor Bob MacDonald of Virginia which is thought to have one of the best school systems around was so taken with Bush he recently introduced and passed a similar A-F grading system. This prompted outrage by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, who asked why are we copying reforms from states whose schools systems aren’t doing as well as ours, but hey what do they know?* After all they are just educators. You know, part of that that group that because of Jeb Bush went from being dedicated, and respected to being money hungry, stick-in-the-muds whose sole focus is to protect bad teachers.
Jeb Bush’s education reforms can be summed up thusly, create a controversy by saying our schools are failing and by demonizing teachers, put in place a measure that confirms his initial concerns which allows him to handicap the teaching profession and begin the process to privatize, amend the initial grading system so it appears as if things have improved, thus validating the changes in the first place, repeat.
Evidence, facts, even common decency and a genuine concern for our children don’t factor into what he is selling. He is a fanatic on a mission that not so coincidently has also lined the pockets of his family and supporters. He is not a miracle worker; instead he is a well paid charlatan and woe to those who think he is anything different.
To read more about the subject check out this piece in Scathing Purple Musings by Bob Sykes,