Nearly four months after suspending his failed presidential campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is making his way back into politics on familiar ground. At the end of May, Bush re-took the helm of his advocacy organization, Foundation for Excellence in Education. On Monday, he published an op-ed in the conservative magazine National Review, “Saving America’s Education System,” sketching out a vision for the nation’s schools circa 2036.
It shows his work as a school reformer is back. “We must massively disrupt our education system,” Bush writes, arguing for reforms that would create a “marketplace” for students, parents and teachers. What exactly does that mean? When Bush asks readers to imagine America’s schools 20 years from now, what he has in mind looks a lot like Florida today.
It’s been close to a decade since Jeb Bush left the governor’s mansion, but his fingerprints can still be found on every aspect of state education policy. As governor, Bush spearheaded a push to tie teacher pay to student performance on state tests. He used every opportunity to widen the path for school choice.
Bush was an architect of the nation’s first voucher program, re-directing Florida tax revenue to pay tuition at private schools. Before his election, Bush founded the state’s first charter school; today, that school is gone, but nearly 300,000 students attend charters in almost every district in the state. In his vision for 2036, Bush writes “There are no more assigned schools.” A year from now, with some limits, that will already be the law of the land in the Sunshine State.