Jeb Bush continues to defend the indefensible. He may have lost his mind.
Coming to an editorial page near you is a piece from Jeb Bush defending Tony Bennett. You know the former education commissioner who resigned in disgrace after it was revealed he changed a charter school grade to benefit both a campaign donor and his pro privatization ideology. Later it came out that his wife took a lucrative job at a company he steered business to and when public schools in Indiana found themselves in the same position as his donor’s charter school he didn’t lift a figure to help them.
Despite all this Bush has cast aside reason and continues to support Bennet. To give you some context about the depth of his depravity he has also recently said picking a school should be like buying milk and the Florida’s colleges of education should be blown up.
I almost feel sorry, as this megalomaniacs world crumbles around him as more people realize his warped ideology, not what is best for students drives his motives. Almost, but then I think of all the teachers forced out of the profession and all the students who have been shortchanged by his privatization policies.
He starts his piece in the Miami Herald with a veiled dig at teachers. “Transforming education to a system that is focused on students, not adults, hardly seems a radical notion. But it is not a job for the faint of heart. There are many entrenched interests with a great deal of money invested in the status quo. Making progress in this environment is a constant battle.”
He is saying, all those selfish (union) teachers with their ten-year-old cars and hundreds of dollars in their bank accounts need to stop thinking only about themselves and to start caring about children. Bush first thinks teachers only became so because they could not do anything else and then all they do is sit around all day with their feet up planning their summers.
Bush continues: “Students don’t have lobbyists. They don’t have unions. Parents want their children to earn diplomas and to attend college without going through a gauntlet of remediation courses. Low-income parents who dream of sending their children to better schools can’t afford campaign contributions. They want change but confronting bureaucracies and policies is difficult and daunting.”
He is right students don’t have lobbies but do you know who does? Charter schools, virtual schools, and testing companies, or who Bush likes to call his top supporters. As for confronting bureaucracies and policies, the Republican Party has been completely in charge of education at the state lever for the last 15 years. Shouldn’t they not teacher’s unions, who have been stripped of the right to strike, the only real bargaining chip a union has, be held responsible for the education problems Florida has? What am I missing here? When a war goes bad do you blame the generals or the privates?
He then tries to use Bennett’s resume as some kind of banner of excellence. He writes: “In Indiana, with Gov. Mitch Daniels, he changed policies and reformed practices, ushering in a new era of parental choice and focus on student achievement. He held schools accountable, began modernizing the teaching profession and led the charge for higher academic standards. Results quickly followed. Indiana’s graduation rate increased every year he served as superintendent of public instruction. The number of students dropping out of school was cut in half. The number of students passing the state’s mathematics test increased 9 percent, with 81 percent of students passing last year.”
I have to believe he has somehow twisted the numbers because what Bush doesn’t mention is the people of Indiana were so impressed with Bennett they voted him out after one term as education commissioner, a race he lost despite out spending his competition by over a million dollars. He was so unpopular that a democratic union member beat Bennett in this reddest of red states. Bush also doesn’t mention how the amount of students taking remedial classes once they started college increased exponentially under Bennett’s watch.
Bush then rewrites history: “A man accused of trying to undermine public education, in fact, had dramatically improved it. He took on both the political left and the political right, and that cost him his job. Nobody who objectively assesses the job Tony has done in Florida can conclude he should be leaving it.”
First I would like to point out he resigned and after only two days. Who thinks they did nothing wrong and then quits after just two days of criticism? Anthony Weiner had pictures of his junk floating around and he held out for over a week. Furthermore he resigned because he was caught red handed. Bennett’s own words were: “I hope we come to the meeting today with solutions and not excuses and/or explanations for me to wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the past six months.” Each e-mail he wrote was more damning than the last.
As for nobody objectively assessing, what about Bush’s friend, supporter and board of education member, Kathleen Shanahan, who said, "We have a mess on our hands," adding that "I don't think we can wait" to address growing public concerns about how students, teachers and schools are evaluated. She is far from the only one who has questioned Bennett too. He has been the subject of dozens if not hundreds of editorials, since the scandal was revealed. Now the mess did not start under Bennett but he certainly exacerbated it
At this point Bush’s meds must have worn off because he wrote: Florida’s students will feel the loss of his leadership the most. Those who stooped to nasty political tactics to undermine Tony should be ashamed. They protect their self-interest at the expense of our next generation.
Whose reputation is Jeb really trying to defend here? The Washington Post said Bush was the biggest loser in the scandal, something ultra conservative columnist Michelle Malkin said too, and I doubt those two agree very often. Furthermore if his rantings are starting to sound like a man who is grasping at the straws of self-preservations to you, please know you are not alone. As for nasty tactics Bush must mean the news simply reporting what Bennett said and did. The truth is this editorial was not about Bush sticking up for his friend; this was about Bush standing up for his crumbling ideas. This is about Bush’s self-interests which he has been putting them ahead of what is best for kids for years. If anybody should be ashamed it is him, though after reading his letter I doubt he is capable of it.
Finally his rant hit a crescendo of psychosis where he applauded Bennett’s efforts to mitigate poverty: A quality education can change a life. It is the only real solution we have to counter the devastating effects of poverty. The sad reality is that if you are born in poverty today, you are more likely to stay there than at any time since World War II. Tony started every day determined to change that. He inspired others to do the same.
Does the A-F school grading policy address poverty? No, it just shows what schools are in neighborhoods mired with poverty and what schools aren’t. Does merit pay address poverty? No, it just assures our best teachers will never want to work at our neediest schools. Do charter schools help students who live in poverty? No, studies show despite huge advantages, kids that attend them as a group lag behind their public school peers. Do vouchers mitigate poverty? No, there is no study that points to kids who attend private schools with vouchers having better education outcomes. How has Bennett and for that matter Florida addressed poverty again? I mean other than to ignore it and to put additional roadblocks in the way of kids who live in poverty.
Florida will not miss Bennett as Bush proposes and nor will they miss Bush when his fifteen minutes are finally up.
To read Bush’s entire letter click the link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/05/3543741/jeb-bush-tony-bennett-paid-price.html