Jeb Bush: ‘You can’t open the economy if children are at home’

jeb bush marlins
Bush also said the federal government should establish a national strategy.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush says Florida can’t fully rebound from the novel coronavirus outbreak until schools are able to open safely.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida was closing schools in mid-March. Those closures were originally slated to last through mid-April but were then extended for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

In late April, DeSantis announced he was allowing a phased reopening of the state, which began Monday.

The plan has several restrictions, and Bush argues those limitations likely can’t be fully dropped until schools reopen.

“You can’t open the economy if children are at home,” Bush said Tuesday. “There’s no possible way. Most families have to have kids in school if they’re going to be able to go to work.”

Speaking with Axios on the effect of the outbreak on education and job readiness going forward, Bush also lamented that many school districts were not ready to transition to a remote learning atmosphere prior to the outbreak.

“The virus will come back,” Bush said. “We should be far ahead of the game than we are today.”

He argued a plan should be developed to guide schools nationwide through the process should social distancing restrictions extend into the 2020-21 school year.

“The 13,000-plus school districts have huge technology budgets, but we don’t have a national strategy,” Bush said.

“And what’s become pretty clear with the COVID-19 pandemic is that the access to education — when you can’t get to the classroom — is limited or nonexistent for some and works for others. It seems to me we should have a national strategy.”

Bush gave a shout out to Miami-Dade County, which was prepared to dispense laptop devices to allow students to learn from home.

“Every student was learning online,” Bush said. “They trained for it. They created a strategy around it. And I think kids will be better off in Miami because of that.”

Districts that struggled with the transition may cause students to lag. Bush argued the federal government needs to account for that in developing future relief bills.

“There needs to be a focus on using some of the money that’s going to be coming from the federal government to deal with the losses of learning that have taken place,” Bush said.

“That could be through summer school. That could be through a more targeted, accelerated approach when school starts in the fall.”

The former Governor and 2016 presidential candidate also said the outbreak is an opportunity to adjust standard education going forward. Bush said changes should be made — such as standard access to distance learning and more focus on students’ situations at home — which will allow more high school graduates to be college- or workforce-ready immediately upon leaving high school.

“We have the tragedy of high school graduation rates going up, but we have a ton of eighth-grade level readers that won’t be able to go to college or they’ll have to take remedial reading and math to be able to start,” Bush argued.

“So this is the time to really think differently.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


  • ExactlyWhatJeb?

    May 5, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Bad timing for Jeb. The school year is almost over, and the children would have been home during normal times.

    What does Jeb suggest? Never opening? This is being done in phases, but Jeb seems to be ignoring that.

    One thing he is right about, is that the kids are losing out on education and will likely miss a year of their working lives. Fun for them, but not good for the economy at all.

    Jeb says, “this is the time to think differently,” but doesn’t tell us what exactly that means. What are his recommendations, that are different than anyone else’s?

  • Eddie

    May 5, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    And that boys and girls is why Jeb is not the president.

  • martin

    May 5, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Jeb, another rich kid who felt it was his birthright to be president. It is easy to say “it is time to think differently”, yet a horse of a different color to actually come up with an original idea.
    This is exactly why no one took him seriously as a presidential candidate.

  • BlueHeron

    May 5, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    I think that Secretary DeVos needs to weigh in on this. Or not.
    She has ideas which fall into the “something different” category.
    But, she’s too busy right now disregarding the CARES Act and continuing to garnish
    student loans borrowers wages despite legislation instructing her to
    discontinue this practice until at least Sept 30.

  • Kevin Wright

    May 5, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    JEB is going to do GREAT, going on the road, with the “social distancing” platform and home schooling. The shutdown proved one thing- we don’t need public school classrooms anymore. Pay willing families the tax savings to home school, and turn the vacant classrooms into shopping malls, for the tens of thousands of small businesses, that the GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN.

    Public school teachers can go straight finishing the job they started with brainwashing our kids- saving the planet from global warming. Just the number of cars off the road closing the schools, is a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Why bother teaching our kids about perverted sex, when you can do more of it at home?

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn