Putting Education Reform To The Test

From the RNC: Jeb Bush Compares School Choice to Shopping for Milk

Andrew Harrer / Getty Images

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was all about education during his Thursday night speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

He kicked off the speech by asking President Obama to stop “blaming your predecessor” for today’s problems.

“Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk a little bit about our kids and education,” said Bush — the younger brother of George W. Bush.

Jeb Bush promoted school choice, teacher tenure and his usual education reforms. His focus was on preparing students for the right jobs that help the U.S. economy.

“China and India produced eight times more engineering students each year than the United States,” Bush said. “This is a moral cost to our country, our failing schools need to be fixed.”

Setting high standards for teachers and students can change that, according to the man known as the “education Governor.”

“We must stop excuse in failure in our schools and start removing — start rewarding improvement and success,” he said.

More from his speech:

Here in Florida, in 1999, we were at the bottom of the nation in education. For the last decade, this state has been on a path of reform. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott and local leaders, our focus every day is whether students are learning. That’s it.

Today, more students are reading on grade level, passing rigorous college prep courses, and graduating from high school, and perhaps most exciting, those traditionally left behind are showing the greatest gains. Among African-American students, Florida is ranked fourth in the nation are academic improvement. Among low- income students, we are ranked third for gains. Among students with disabilities, we are ranked first. Among Latino students, the gains were so big, they require a new metric. Right now, Florida’s fourth grade Hispanic students read as well or better than the average of all students in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Bush advocated for equal education regardless of race, ethnicity and social standing.

He said school choice is a way to provide equal education — though many opponents of school choice argue it only drives privileged students and their families further away from less-privileged students.

Bush compared school options to a couple cartons of milk.

Look, everywhere in our lives, we get a chance to choose. Go down in the supermarket aisle and you will find an incredible selection of milk. You can get a whole milk, buttermilk, 2 percent milk, low-fat milk, or skim milk, organic milk, and milk with extra Vitamin D. There’s flavored milk, chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla. And it doesn’t even taste like milk.

They even make milk for people who cannot drink milk.

So, my question to you is, shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice in schools that best meets the needs of their students?

Governor Romney gets its. Mitt Romney gets it. He believes parents, regardless of zip code or income, should be able to send their child to the school that fits them best.

He wrapped up his speech with a tip of his hat to the now official GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

He said the Massachusetts Governor raised academic standards in his state, narrowed the achievement gap among racial groups and created a merit-based college scholarship.

“A president who always puts students first.”


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