Recently, education reformers from across the country descended on Orlando to attend an education reform summit organized by the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the James Madison Institute. The conference examined the need to reduce achievement gaps and improve opportunities for all children, and highlighted promising reform strategies like holding schools accountable for results and expanding school choice.
A focus of the event was Florida’s pioneering education reforms which have proven to boost student achievement. Former Governor Jeb Bush serves as the chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and hosted the event. Governor Bush kindly agreed to discuss the topic with Dan Lips.NRO:
Governor Bush, you and others have warned that the United States faces serious challenges in the twenty-first century with the rise of globalization and increased international competition. What message do you think parents and students need to hear to be prepared for the future?
Governor Bush: Our students are no longer just competing with students in other states across the nation. They are competing with their peers around the world. Countries like China, Sweden, and Singapore are focusing on tomorrow’s economy and placing a premium on education and innovation to ensure they can keep pace with their rivals. For decades, America set that pace, and now we are falling behind.
We need all schools — here in Florida and in 49 other states — to get better for our country’s future. The only way to improve student performance is through continual and perpetual reform of education. America needs a 21st century education system for a 21st century world.
NRO: In your opening remarks at the conference, you said that our education system is like “an 8-track system living in an iPod world”? What changes do you think need to be made to bring our education system into the 21st century?
Governor Bush: I believe we are at a tipping point. We can build a world class education system through bigger and bolder reform – higher standards, more school choice, pay for performance, harnessing technology, and stronger accountability. If we give into complacency, we will cede our role as a global powerhouse.
NRO: In the area of education reform, no state has implemented bolder reforms than Florida did under your leadership. A decade later, are you seeing results in Florida’s classrooms?