Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is pushing for major changes in the country’s education system. He’s urging activists to take big swings under the incoming administration.
Shortly after leaving the governor’s mansion, Jeb Bush started the foundation for excellence in education. The think tank based in Tallahassee advocates for school choice, performance funding, and higher standards. But with a chairman fresh from a failed presidential bid the election hung over Bush’s keynote address.
“It is good to be here at the ninth annual summit, I actually planned not to be here this year,” Bush said to polite laugher. “I hoped to be pursuing another kind of public service.”
Still, Bush sees a silver lining.
President elect Donald Trump’s choice for education secretary is a former ExellinEd board member. And with Republicans in control of numerous state governments, the legislature and the presidency, Bush believes the time could be ripe for disruptive change. He urges summit attendees to aim for big projects that can survive on their own momentum.
“There are many states that have begun to implement ESAs or vouchers for example for children with learning disabilities and they have 400 kids,” Bush says. “You know in a state of any kind of size that’s not scale, and so that program could wither away because there isn’t a constituency for it.”
“What you need to do is build a constituency so people can’t turn back.”
Dismantling big programs, Bush says, results in big political blowback. For example, he notes with a hundred thousand kids taking advantage of Florida’s corporate tax scholarships, a court ruling abolishing the program would outrage thousands of voters.