According to this article in Yellowhammer News, former Florida governor Jeb Bush was recently in Birmingham telling a group of business leaders that they should give money to support private school vouchers, instead of paying Alabama income tax which goes to the Education Trust Fund to support public schools.
“School choice improves the chance of all children to be able to get a quality education. That is what we need in this country to be able to succeed and thrive. It is essential for Alabama’s success,” Gov. Bush said to the 60 business leaders from around the state who were in attendance.
The article does not say whether or not Bush told the group that picking a school should be like shopping for milk as he did in 2012 with this statement:
“Everywhere in our lives, we get the chance to choose. Go down any supermarket aisle – you’ll find an incredible selection of milk. You can get whole milk, 2 percent milk, low-fat milk or skim milk. Organic milk, and milk with extra Vitamin D. There’s flavored milk — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — and it doesn’t even taste like milk. They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk. Shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice in schools?”
Several things about this article and the event got my attention. For one, considering that Jeb Bush’s campaign for President totally flopped in Alabama on March 1, he seems an interesting choice to hand out advice. Out of the 860,652 votes cast in the Republican primary, Bush only got 3,974 of them. That was less than one-half of one percent. And this was in spite of him having the Lt. Governor, three state senators and state school board member Mary Scott Hunter running as delegates for him.
Another thing, why would anyone hold up Jeb Bush as an expert on education considering his record on education after serving as governor of Florida from 1999-2007.
Here is a lengthy article that goes into detail about the Bush Florida education record. A few minutes on Google will take you to lot more discussion about education in Florida. For instance, here is a report by the Florida League of Women Voters about shenanigans in the Sunshine State dealing with charter schools.
Another disturbing thing about the article is the total misrepresentation of facts about Alabama schools. For example, it states that our high school graduation rate is below the national average. Not true according to this info about graduation rates from the National Center for Education Statistics. As you see in 2013-14 the national rate was 82 percent and Alabama was 86 percent Even more revealing is that the graduation rate for African-Americans was 84 percent in Alabama and 73 percent nationally.
(And since some are determined that Alabama must now be compared to Masschusetts notice that our grad rate for African-Americans is nine points greater than in Massachusetts.)
The article also takes a shot at Alabama scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores. And once again someone cherry-picked scores in an effort to push the manta that we have terrible schools. For instance, they refer to scores from 2013, instead of the latest scores from 2015.
Our 4th grade reading scores in 2015 were higher than 18 other states. And while 4th grade math scores did drop two points from 2013–so did those in Massachusetts.
And as we’ve reported before, the very critical achievement “gap” on NAEP scores in 2015 between black and white students is less in Alabama than in Massachusetts.
I know that pesky little things like facts often get in the way of political spin and attempts to paint a picture that is not true, but seems to me that when you are talking about performance of children, the least we should do is be honest.