Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jeb Bush's Reform Initiative Gets Reviewed

On June 24, Jeb Bush was challenged for his support for national standards as expressed in a recent NY Times op-ed in a post by Greg Forster, Senior Fellow at the Foundation of Educational Choice.

On June 30, William Mathis of the National Education Policy Center reviewed the presentations Jeb Bush makes as he travels around the country marketing Florida's reforms as the model for success. "The mission of the Foundation for Excellence in Education is to ignite a state-by-state transformation agenda to “support reform, primarily based on the success of the FloridaFormula on Student Achievement” model. The foundation’s president is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush."

Mathis states that "Jeb Bush's education foundation makes unsupported claims ignores facts to push agenda."
"Fundamentally, Mr. Bush's presentation is based on the fallacious causal claim that his selected set of loosely coupled reforms introduced in Florida between 1992 and 2011 caused fourth-grade reading score gains," Mathis wrote in his review. "No evidence is provided to sustain this linkage. Further, this claim ignores the fact that some of the favored reforms were implemented as late as 2010, and some are not yet implemented."

Mathis finds that Jeb Bush's claims are too narrowly focused on 4th grade reading scores and links great success, including improvements in the graduation rate, to selected reforms ignoring much else.

Florida high school dropout rates in 2008 were reported at 63.9%, about 7% less than the national average. Floridians do not find this fact an assurance that so-called reforms are having the effect that matches the claim. Mathis concludes:
Real problems are ignored. The most troubling aspect of the presentation is the avoidance of and failure to address real problems while, instead, embracing false solutions. This avoidance increases the likelihood that these real educational problems will intensify. Unfortunately, if research is our guide, the effect of the Florida reforms will likely prove to be a more inequitable and inadequate educational system.

Read the June 30, 2011 review here.

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