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The Fantasy World of Jeb Bush


“… A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  Macbeth: Act 5 Scene 5

Jeb Bush wrote a strange opinion piece that appeared in the Tampa Bay Times. He made his usual phony claims- knowing that most people would not bother to check. I am not sure if Jeb Bush is lying or just misleading. You decide.

I think the best way to expose Jeb Bush is to use his own words and do a CLOSE READING of his opinion piece. You see, veteran classroom teachers are all too aware of the Bush propaganda machine. There is often no real media scrutiny of Mr. Bush. This chap has not had one tough interview in his life.

Here we go!

Bush: ” The hardest lesson to learn about education reform is that it never gets any easier.”

Response: I am surprised Bush opened with this line. He always needs a crisis. No Matter what kids do- it will never be good enough. At least he showed his hand early.  I guess it is getting harder for the Bush folks as more people catch on to his game. See Lee Fang’s articles about Bush and Levesque. Actually TEACHING does not get easier – as politicians like Bush use testing as a political hammer. They scapegoat schools for the ills of society. They divert billions to more testing as a response to the twins that stalk all too many kids- violence and poverty. 

Bush: “Setting the bar, however, doesn’t mean clearing it. To do that, it is critical that we accurately measure student progress in meeting the standards we have set for them.”

Response: Bush admits that his goal is not to get kids to clear the bar. It is all about moving it. The bar changes early and often in Florida. He keeps saying “we.” I am not sure who he is talking about since he has never taught a day in his life and standards in Florida are imposed on elected boards and districts. Bush then says we have to accurately measure student progress. Of course he assumes that massive testing is the way to do this. He does not want to trust teachers- just testing companies. Bush wants you to buy his false premise- don’t. Florida school grades line up almost perfectly by socioeconomic factors. Socioeconomic factors remain the main influence on test scores as well (see DiCarlo, Krashen, Bracey et al…).

Bush: ” We have made remarkable progress in improving public education in Florida.”

Response: *Graduation rates for Black males- below Mississippi (Schott report). *In the last few few years we see a widening in the gaps between Black and White students as well as between poor and well off, compared to the nation – at many levels (NAEP).

Bush: “These standards (common core) set the bar at a college/career-ready threshold for all kids.”   

Response: Of course lumping all kids together is silly and makes no sense. The Bush crowd said the same thing about the Sunshine State Standards and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. Try again? How many more billions does he want to waste as the educational testing complex and its cottage industries get rich AGAIN? There is no evidence for these standards (see Tienken).

Bush: “… ensuring that when a kid walks across the stage in his cap and gown and shakes the principal’s hand, he is prepared to move on to college or a meaningful career.”

Response: If true, then why have 25% of Florida students been allowed to graduate with waivers? Why does Florida allow students to buy credit for around $300?  Jeb Bush is the guy who charges to pull your car out of the water filled ditch each morning- the one he fills each night.  So I guess he admits his accountability system failed? Or maybe he is scapegoating schools for the ills of society?

Bush: “Good standards without good tests are nothing more than a Santa Claus wish list.”

Response: Funny he mentions Santa. In Florida we call him Pearson Claus. Again Bush wants you to accept his false premise that testing is what makes one college or career ready. Of course there is massive evidence to show this is not true (Gilbert, Santelices for two). Bush also confirms what most career classroom teachers know. Standards become the curriculum which is based on what is tested. It is all about testing. The myth that common core is just standards is naive at best.

Mr.Bush also means “standardized tests” and not teacher tests. He does not trust teachers. Bush arrogantly assumes we must have massive outside testing to measure progress. We spent the last 36 days of the year- testing.

Bush: “What gets measured gets done.”

Response: Again Bush wants you to accept the false premise that we have to “measure” by giving billions to testing companies. Oy! This shows a total lack of understanding of what education is and how teachers and schools save lives and help kids grow in THEIR worlds.

Bush: “Those who have opposed these reforms fail to remember the state of education before accountability. It was a time when almost half of Florida’s fourth- graders were illiterate and our graduation rate hovered around 50 percent.”

Response: This is is the most blatant lie deception in the entire piece. Does he even know what illiterate means?  I will let you in on a secret. When a fourth-grader scores “below grade level” on FCAT (or other test) it does not mean they cannot read.  It is unethical to suggest illiteracy here. If 240 is “proficient” and a student scores 239 – they are illiterate in the fantasy world of Jeb Bush.  Here is another secret that Jeb Bush will not tell you…

READING GRADE LEVEL is in CONSTANT FLUX. It depends on things such as interest, text difficulty and health.

Bush: “The pressure to put the adults first will never subside, but that comes at the expense of far too many children whose success or failure in life depends on those few years spent in a classroom.”

Response: Bush says if you do not agree with him, you are putting adults, and not students- first. This is a slap in the face to all hard working educators who have little say in their own profession. Those who are sick of working in testing factories (We tested close to 80 days last year) and want to TEACH are snubbed by Mr. Bush. WE who spend hours after school and on weekends helping kids? WE who spend thousands of dollars on food and books for kids?  WE who help kids find and explore passions? Shame on you Jeb Bush. We put adults first because we oppose your smoke and mirror shell game? We who know your testing obsession is what actually puts adults first? How dare you, a politician, accuse those who oppose you as not putting students first. 

Here is the entire Bush letter. If any paper wants to publish my rejoinder let me know.

PS: Do you see how Jeb Bush bastardizes testing?  Bush proceeds to pretend on one hand that everything is tickity-boo (see Danny Kaye) but on the other hand that we are in a crisis.

I present to you…  the fantasy world of Jeb Bush.


I know I did not teach a day in my life but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.


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