National Review / Digital
The Education Ex-Governor
As a private citizen, Jeb Bush remains a mighty force for good

(Roman Genn)


When Bush left office four years ago, it was clear that his reforms were working. The results are even more obvious now. By almost any measure, Florida’s schools have gone from among the worst in the country to among the best. The percentage of fourth-graders who can’t read dropped from 46 percent in 1998 to 27 percent in 2009 (the last year for which numbers are available). One of the best measures of success didn’t appear until recently. “It was an ‘aha moment’ for us,” says Bush. Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute, an Arizona think tank, combed through Florida’s racial and ethnic subgroup data. He discovered that the typical Florida Hispanic either beats or ties the average of all students in 31 states on fourth-grade reading tests. The typical Florida black matches or outperforms the average student in eight states. “His approach was ingenious,” says Bush. “It shows that compassion is not about how much money you spend but about the results you get — and these are great results.”

Now Bush is trying to export Florida’s results to other states. “Education needs to be a national priority, but not a federal program,” he says. Bush visits capitals, delivers PowerPoint presentations to public officials and business leaders, and isn’t above making a strategic phone call on the eve of a critical vote. “It’s great to have someone who has walked this road,” says Leslie Hiner of the Foundation for Educational Choice, an Indiana-based group started by Milton and Rose Friedman. “He can describe what happens, answer questions, and make school choice come alive.”

February 21, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 3

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  • Let’s stop Obamacare without blowing up the constitutional order.
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