Daniel Tilson: Public schools plus private profiteering equal #JebFailsEd

He’s baaaack…Jeb Bush in Tallahassee that is, and he’s taking the Florida political news cycle by storm.

And a crowd of parents, teachers and concerned citizens was there, and in other cities statewide too, protesting Bush’s badly hidden agenda to further destabilize and privatize public schools in Florida and across the USA (hence the twitter hashtag, #JebFailsEd). Public interest advocacy organization Progress Florida and the state chapter of grassroots group Badass Teachers Association are spearheading efforts to speak frontline truth to back-room power.

Yes, it’s been a big week for Bush. And it’s only Tuesday. Of course, he’s running hard to become our next American president, and hasn’t even announced his candidacy yet.

But that hasn’t stopped him from building and launching the money-laundering – uh, excuse me, the PAC apparatus that will finance his presidential aspirations. His “Right To Rise” Political Action Committee was beneficiary of a $1,000-per-person fundraising luncheon that preceded today’s “education summit” sponsored by his Foundation for Florida’s Future.

In advance of all that, Bush released an archive of eight years’ worth of his email interactions as Florida governor from 1999-2007. And…OK, catch your breath…he released the first chapter of his new e-book. It’s so new it still doesn’t have a title. So I’d like to suggest, “Bad Math”.

Because on so many levels, Jeb Bush’s policy positions and proposals don’t add up to anything but trouble for Florida’s working poor and middle-class families. Take education…although you better be careful when you say that, if you know what I mean.

The long and short of it is that starting 16 years ago when he took office as governor, Bush put Florida’s public education system on the path to the state of chaotic confusion and under-performance it’s in today. Rather than uniting teachers, parents, communities and acknowledged experts in crafting the kinds of reforms that could reinvent and reinvigorate public school education, he kick-started a shady shadow system to undermine it.

Hello, school “choice” movement.

Standardized testing beyond belief, test-driven school ratings and teacher evaluations, teaching “to the test”; all helped set up teachers, students and schools for failures that were then used to justify the explosion of vouchers, for-profit charters and “virtual” online educational alternatives.

The fact that such diversion of funding and students away from public schools was married with myriad profiteering opportunities for corporate supporters of Jeb Bush’s favored “reforms” speaks for itself, and needs to be better known and understood by the general public.

What I can tell you from here at ground level, as the parent of a 9-year-old public school kid, is that something’s not adding up. When a good, happy student suddenly comes home in a panic with a list of websites she’s supposed to spend 45 extra minutes doing online practice test-taking at, for the next several months, in addition to her regular homework, leisure time and, uh…life…then something is wrong, or worse, something is rotten here in Florida.

Am guessing you could sniff out some of the reasons up in Tallahassee this week.

Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Daniel Tilson


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